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Palo Alto Weekly Online Edition

Uploaded: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, 1:45 p.m.

City takes precautionary measures

Emergency plans activated in wake of East Coast terrorist attacks

by Geoff S. Fein

The city of Palo Alto has stepped up its police presence at numerous city facilities in response to Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The city has also set up a public information hotline to keep residents informed of what actions the city is taking.

City manager Frank Benest declined to comment on where police have been posted, however, Palo Alto utilities director John Ulrich said security around the city-owned utilities has been stepped up.

"There is heightened security at utility sites around town," Ulrich said "Our emergency plans have this already in place."

City officials held a press conference Tuesday morning to assure residents that Palo Alto is safe and secure.

Mayor Sandy Eakins said she didn't expect to be at City Hall Tuesday under such circumstances. She was joined by Council members Bern Beecham, Nancy Lytle, Dena Mossar, Judy Kleinberg, Jim Burch and Vic Ojakian.

Council member Gary Fazzino is in Washington, D.C. Eakins assured the gathering that Fazzino was OK.

Eakins said the city called the press conference to keep Palo Altans informed of events, locally and nationally.

"There are bound to be people in Palo Alto that have connections on the planes and in the buildings," Eakins said.

Eakins added the city is "not playing the odds."

"We are letting people know we are utilizing the emergency plans we developed over the years," she said.

Benest, however, said nothing has happened to spark the city's emergency response operations plan.

"We've not received any specific threats, but we are taking a number of precautions," Benest said. "We've put additional fire personnel on standby."

The city has also beefed up security at City Hall and only employees have access to elevators, Benest said.

"We've coordinated emergency response with the Palo Alto Unified School District," he said. "And we've coordinated with the Independent System Operators (ISO) who operate the statewide electric grid."

Palo Alto Police Chief Pat Dwyer said the department will increase staffing for the next few days.

"We want to convey (to the public) they are safe and secure in their home and business," he said.

Dwyer added that he has been in contact with local key businesses. Some have closed he said, including Stanford Shopping Center.

City personnel will be meeting every two hours to be on top of any information, Benest said.

Besides setting up a information hotline, the city is posting information on its Web site as well as providing information to KZSU radio and cable channel 26. The city is also e-mailing information to all the neighborhood associations so it can be dispersed on list servers.

"We want everybody to remain calm," Benest said.

Anyone with concerns can check in with the city, he added.

"But don't use 911, except for an emergency," Benest said.

He also asked residents to minimize their travel because of increased traffic expected to occur later today.

Benest also encouraged people to donate blood.

"We are trying to establish a mobile blood center downtown," he said. "We need to pull together and be tolerant of each other."

For information on the city's response to the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., residents may call (650) 329-2420 or visit the city's Web site at http://www.city.palo-alto.ca.us/.

 

 

 

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