NEW YORK — Workers were sent home and shop doors locked at many businesses in a badly shaken nation’s response to the terrorist attacks in New York City and the nation’s capital Tuesday.
A suspension of air traffic nationwide crippled operations at businesses that rely on air transportation, such as package carriers FedEx and United Parcel Service. Evacuation of landmark buildings, such as the Sears Tower in Chicago, seriously disrupted activity at many firms.
Other companies, from Coca Cola Co. in Atlanta to Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich., canceled meetings and allowed workers to leave.
"This is a national tragedy, and our sympathy goes out to all those affected," said Nick Sharkey, a Ford spokesman. "Ford is taking all reasonable precautions for our employees and our facilities."
General Motors allowed employees to go home if they chose, while Daimler Chrysler shut down Tuesday.
Mall operators across the country, including the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., and The Taubman Centers, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich., company that operates 27 malls in 12 states, closed their doors. Those shopping centers that remained open beefed up security.
Major theme parks across the country, including Disneyland Resorts and Universal Studios Hollywood, shuttered their facilities, and major sporting events were canceled
In New York, the entire Wall Street area, choked by smoke and rocked by shock waves from the attacks and the subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center towers, was shut down. With bridges to Manhattan closed and subway and train service disrupted, many offices closed.
Saks Fifth Avenue closed its flagship Manhattan store, but others, including Bloomingdales, stayed open, not only serving shoppers but also providing havens for employees stranded without public transportation.
"If they have to be here, we will be here," said Anne Keating, a spokeswoman for the department store. "Companies have ordered blankets from us for their employees to sleep on."
Many business outside the targeted areas of New York and Washington, D.C., said they closed because they knew their workers were worried about friends and family, and about nation’s overall security.
"It is a time when people need to be with their families. We recognize that and have closed all our business operations," said Jim Eldred, chief financial officer for Cincinnati-based Human ChoiceCare, a division of Louisville, Ky.’s Humana Inc., a health care company employing 15,000 people across the country.
"It is hitting everybody. It is incredible how many people have connections to people who work there," Eldred said, noting that at least a dozen workers at their Cincinnati office friends or family who work in downtown New York.
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