By Luis Cabrera
SEATTLE – There was no immediate relief for bleary-eyed passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as the Federal Aviation Administration continued its ban on flying Wednesday, a day after after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.
Passengers waited in long lines for flights at Sea-Tac, only to learn that they wouldn’t be going anywhere.
Stalled flights at airports were just part of the inconvenience that rippled through Washington state after Tuesday’s attacks. Increased security also meant traffic backups at the U.S. border and at military bases. But most people put the delays in context.
“Considering this devastation, we have no complaints,” said Louise Norton, 67, who was trying to get to Raleigh, N.C. “We would love to be home, but a lot of people would love to have their families.”
Sea-Tac officials had hoped to resume flights at 9 a.m. The FAA pushed that time back to 11 a.m. before announcing the ban was further extended, with no immediate word on when it might be lifted.
As at other airports throughout the country, security was significantly increased after four planes were hijacked Tuesday in the terrorist attacks. Police were stationed throughout the airport, and Sea-Tac spokesman Bob Parker said curbside luggage check-in had been halted, unattended vehicles would be immediately towed, and security officers would watch for unattended bags.
Ed Bomberger, 19, of Newport, Ore., spent the night in the airport after being stranded Tuesday on his way to visit his mother in Juneau, Alaska. He called 10 hotels but couldn’t find a room.
“All day and all night, I wandered around. You just go in circles,” he said.
Eventually, he found a corner to curl up in and slept a little. Most of the airport televisions were off, so he relied on cellular phone calls to friends and family for news updates.
“It doesn’t even really seem like it happened,” Bomberger said.
Dozens of cots were set up for stranded passengers at the airport, where more than 100 flights were canceled as part of the nationwide shutdown of air traffic.
On Tuesday, more than 80 flights were canceled at Spokane International Airport, and other airports across the state reported cancellations.
More than 30 international flights bound for the U.S. West Coast were diverted to Vancouver, British Columbia, where all regular departures were canceled on Tuesday.
Motorists had long waits at the busy U.S. border crossing at Blaine, where every car was inspected.
Security also remained tight at Washington military bases, with special emphasis on the Naval Submarine Base at Bangor, west of Seattle on Hood Canal. Bangor is home to eight Trident nuclear submarines and a large arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The USS Fife, a destroyer armed with cruise missiles, torpedoes and guns, was sent to the Bangor waterfront to provide security, Navy officials told The Sun of Bremerton.
The FAA imposed a no-fly zone within 25 miles of the base, an area extending to Seattle, FAA regional duty officer Michael O’Connor said.
The USS Ford, a frigate armed with missiles and guns based in Everett, was patrolling near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.
A second frigate, the USS Rodney M. Davis, patrolled Elliott Bay along the Seattle waterfront. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Kim Marks said the ships, part of the security response, were considered safer on patrol than they would be tied up in Everett.
Fort Lewis Army personnel were told to report to work at staggered hours Wednesday to avoid the long traffic backups seen Tuesday as vehicles were inspected at gates, base chief of staff Maj. Gen. Robert Brautigan said.
Two KC-135 tankers from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane were sent to refuel military jets in the sky, said Col. Erv Lessel, commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing.
Blood center stockpiles increased dramatically statewide as residents responded to calls to donate for victims of the attacks.
A joint Pierce and King county urban search and rescue team gathered at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma to be sent to New York to help with rescue operations. The 65 members of the team expected to be there for about a week, Seattle Fire Chief Gary Morris said.
“This is a national and personal tragedy for all of us,” Seattle Mayor Paul Schell said, adding that “we will not live in fear.”
Employees returned to work at the Hanford nuclear reservation for the 8 a.m. shift Wednesday, under continued heightened security, Department of Energy spokesman Mike Talbott said.
“There is nothing leading us to believe we are a target, so our security actions are of a precautionary nature, but the prudent thing to do,” he said.
Federal courthouses in Spokane and Seattle also reopened Wednesday.
About 100 people gathered Tuesday evening at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to demonstrate against any hasty reprisal for the attacks.
Tim Nelson, 41, of Seattle, carried a sign saying, “Muslim people are good.” Nelson said he worried that people would jump to conclusions about the attacks.
“That’s what happens when people get scared. They think in stereotypes,” he said.
Churches held special services and interfaith gatherings around the state. About 1,200 people attended a noon Mass on Tuesday at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and more than 100 gathered in Spokane’s Riverfront Park for a noon prayer meeting.
Gov. Gary Locke ordered flags lowered to half-staff on state buildings.
Ferries stopped carrying vehicles for several hours Tuesday for fear of car bombs on some routes across Puget Sound.
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