Colorado Springs residents react to the tragedy in New York and Washington

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The Colorado Springs business community reacted to Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, with shock, disbelief and an overwhelming sense of loss. Many businesses, schools and federal buildings closed early, and the downtown area around Acacia Park seemed like a ghost town as friends and strangers huddled in front of televisions watching the aftermath of the worst act of violence in history on American soil.

The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon left more than 10,000 people dead and many more injured. The Colorado Springs community was affected emotionally as well as economically as the news unfolded.

The following is a recap of how local businesses, schools and spiritual centers handled the tragedy:

Academy School District 20 and District 8’s Fountain in Fort Carson closed and made a decision when to reopen. School Districts 11, 12, 49 38, 23 3 and RE-2 remained open.

The Springs Airport closed. A roadblock on Powers Road prevented people from reaching the facility, even to pick up travelers. Approximately 200 people stranded there were given food and shelter from the Red Cross. The facility is now open and on Sept. 12 will start flights in the evening, but factors include strict security measures that may change things. Normalcy is expected early next week.

City Hall remained opened and conducted their regular council meeting, although El Paso County offices were closed upon orders of the County Commissioners on Tuesday. Business resumed Wednesday with strict security.

Sheriff John Anderson happened to have extra staff on duty Tuesday that ended up weeding out traffic jams as people were sent home from their military bases.

All three Springs malls closed Tuesday afternoon: Chapel Hills, The Citadel and Pueblo. It’s back to business on September 12.

Gas stations reported huge crowds as people thought gas prices might increase, although local owners insisted that there is no reason for panic buying at this time.

Local investors are watching the stock market closely. As of press time Wednesday, the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange, part of the World Trade Center, were not conducting business. More than 50,000 people are now out of jobs that were working there.

Lines formed at both Penrose and Memorial Hospitals to donate blood.

More than 200 firefighters and approximately 100 police officers lost their lives during the crisis.

The National Firefighter’s Memorial will be held here Saturday, September 15 at 1 p.m. at the Firefighter’s Memorial statue.

United Parcel Service (UPS) has indefinitely suspended deliveries to the Pentagon and lower Manhattan.

Churches held all-day prayer sessions and counseling.

The terrorism is being called an act of war and involved four hijacked planes, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and another that landed in southern Pennsylvania. It is being compared to Pearl Harbor, although the number of recent deaths surpasses that by over 7,000. The last time there was an attack on Washington was during the War of 1812. President Bush and other top politicos are just shy of declaring war, although as people are becoming more outraged the tendency is to demand some kind of retribution. No one person or organization has claimed responsibility for the terrorism, although multi-millionaire terrorist Osama Bin Laden tops the list, and it is generally agreed that there is a mid-east connection.

Local talk show radio had call-in guests that said they cried when they heard the news, holding their children. Pastor Marv Vose from Sunrise United Methodist Church stated that people were showing emotions of shock and loss, as well as a real uncertainty about how long this conflict might last. His church was open all day and counselors were on staff to help with grief. “Everyone knows someone who is affected by this tragedy,” said Vose. One relative of a parishioner worked in the Pentagon, and was there when it was bombed. Thankfully, she was not hurt. Vose stated that this event stunned everybody. “We’re here to help people verbalize what they are feeling.” And, he added, they are one business whose services are free.