Shockwaves crossHawaii was shocked into action by terrorist acts thousands of miles away yesterday, putting isle military bases on highest alert, grounding air traffic and sending many residents to blood banks and churches.
The tragedy prompts tighter
security around the state and
various community gatherings
U.S. Navy warships were patrolling the West Coast and Hawaii, ready to respond to any terrorist threat. Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Gordon, a Pacific Fleet spokesman at Pearl Harbor, said the 15 ships patrolling Hawaii waters were deployed or redirected as a precautionary measure, not because of a specific threat.
Military bases in Hawaii remained closed today to those without military identification for the second straight day after yesterday's plane hijackings and crashes.
All state airports, the islands' economic lifeline, were closed yesterday and this morning as authorities and airlines tried to meet new security guidelines. They were hoping to reopen the airways today.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said last night that air traffic controllers were to be ready to work at 6 a.m. today. However, by mid-morning, they were still waiting for clearance to open state airports from FAA officials in Washington. All flights to and from Hawaii were canceled yesterday morning, but 21 international flights that were past the halfway point were allowed to land.
Gordon said the Navy has a number of ships under way in the Pacific Ocean.
The USS Russell guided missile destroyer, the Navy rescue ship USS Salvor and the Navy oiler USNS Yukon were off Hawaii yesterday, he said. The USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier was under way off San Diego, while two guided missile cruisers, three guided missile destroyers and five guided missile frigates were at sea in the eastern Pacific.
All ships have the capability of responding to any threat in the air or sea, he said.
Increased security checks at military bases snarled the morning commute for many today, Honolulu Police said.
The HPD closed the Wilikina extension at Kamemameha Highway and diverted traffic to Kamananui Road for those entering Schofield Barracks. All left-turn lanes from Wilikina Drive onto Kunia Road also were closed.
The heaviest slowdowns were reported along Kunia Road going toward Schofield and along the Moanalua Freeway westbound near the off-ramp for Tripler Barracks, HPD Dispatcher Evelyn Morioka said.
A Pearl Harbor shipyard worker said it took 212 hours to reach Nimitz Gate before his car was inspected so he could get to work.
Traffic is expected to be even heavier tomorrow when about 3,000 civilian workers return to their Pearl Harbor jobs
Ala Moana Center and the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, all closed yesterday, reopened today.
At the state Capitol, Gov. Ben Cayetano put the Hawaii National Guard on partial alert to assist police departments, airport security and other government security personnel. Cayetano also activated the state civil defense at Diamond Head. State and county Civil Defense were on their highest state of alert yesterday and were expected to remain in that status at least through the night.
At the main police station, the public was not allowed inside the building and the firearms registration bureau was closed.
Most public schools were to remain open today, however most schools on military bases were to be closed. (For more on today's school schedule, see Page A12.)
The terrorist attacks were the major topic of discussion at schools around the state yesterday, with normal subjects pushed aside while teachers let students talk things out through the day.
"A lot of kids were wondering whether this means there's going to be a World War III," said Chloe Dooley, 12, an eighth-grader at Punahou School. "Some are afraid someone's going to bomb Hawaii.
"We talked about it all day in most of our classes."
"One of my teachers printed news stories and pictures off the Internet and tried to help us understand what's going on. I think it's really stupid, whoever did this," said David Carter, 13, a freshman at Pearl City High School.
He, too, worried that terrorists might hit Hawaii, but said heightened security at military bases around the state somewhat reassured him.
On Hawaii military bases, nonessential civilian workers were told to stay home today. Because of the heightened state of alert, people traveling to military bases were told to expect delays because of extensive security checks at the gates, said Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. John Singley.
As many people across America compared the terrorist acts to the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the monument to that infamous day, the Arizona Memorial, remained closed for security reasons. The USS Missouri Memorial also was closed.
"We're simply following the lead of the Navy since we share common space on the harbor," said Dan Hand, chief ranger with the National Parks Service, which operates the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial attracts an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 visitors a day, Hand said.
Bob Burt, director of operations for the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, said he is hopeful the museum will be able to open tomorrow.
At the Prince Kuhio Federal Building and the U.S. District Courthouse, both the U.S. Marshals and Federal Protective Services have stepped up security, surveillance and personnel. Anyone entering either building must go through metal detectors and their belongings run through X-ray machines.
At the federal courthouse, U.S. Marshals are on "high alert" and are also checking identification of everyone that enters, including federal agents and courthouse employees, said U.S. Marshal Howard Tagomori.
Those parking in the employee or public parking lots are asked what their business is in the building and their vehicles are subject to random searches, said Peter J. Gaddy, deputy property manager of the General Services Administration which manages both buildings.
Meanwhile, throughout Hawaii, many residents reacted to the horror in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania by flocking to blood banks to donate blood and to their houses of worship to pray for the victims and their families.
"When I heard the news on the radio, you feel for all those people involved, and you feel you have to do something," said Evan Sutton, a technician with Sprint PCS, as he waited to donate blood at the Blood Bank on Dillingham Boulevard.
Churches across the state opened their doors and set up special services and a candlelight vigil was quickly organized last night at Iolani Palace.
The governor postponed a Friday trip to China, but said he remains resolved to go to Japan later this month.
Cayetano said he wanted to send a message to Japan that Hawaii valued its visitors and wanted to see them continue to come.
His resolve reflects a concern that Hawaii would suffer a decline in Japanese visitors much as it did after the start of the Gulf War in 1991.
"The impact is such that I was supposed to go to the end of this month; I will go and I will do everything I can to assure them that they should continue to come to Hawaii," he said.
Cayetano also worries that the heightened concern over aviation security may scare people from flying to Hawaii.
"I would be speculating, but it would be a good guess that people may be reluctant to fly at this time, unless they have some feeling of security and safety," he said.
Mayor Jeremy Harris said the city would hold an interfaith service for the victims of the attack tomorrow at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl crater.
"This will be a candlelight memorial service of hope, healing and prayers for our country, to regain our spiritual strength after today's terrible tragedies," Harris said.
Star-Bulletin reporters Gregg Kakesako, Christine Donnelly, Richard Borreca, Rosemarie Bernardo, Crystal Kua and Pat Omandam contributed to this report.