Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Just be vigilant

Terrorism: No red alerts

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge endured ribbing from the media and others in February after he came to Cincinnati to unveil a national readiness plan to protect against terrorism.

The duct tape jokes were endless, and the effectiveness of the terror color-coding system was rendered ineffective. (Who knows how much more dangerous orange is than yellow for the average Cincinnatian?)

But as we near the anniversary dates of the terrorist attacks, the humor grows a little stale. In truth, all Americans must be diligent and alert in this post-9/11 environment. With the United States fighting conflicts in Iraq and other hotspots, the likelihood of a terrorist attack is ever present.

During a meeting with the Enquirer's editorial board Monday, Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, said it is unclear whether information in intelligence reports can be seen as credible. And there is no exact way to predict when an attack might occur, but today Americans are in better shape to protect ourselves than they were prior to 9/11, he said. And the best protection may be common sense.

Duct tape jokes aside, by now all families should have a clear communications plan in place for reaching their loved ones in case of a catastrophic emergency. They need to have an emergency plan that includes supplies, food, clothing and shelter. They need to have important family documents in a waterproof, portable container.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of the near simultaneous terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which combined killed more than 300 people and wounded more than 5,000. The anniversary of 9/11 is roughly one month away.

Who knows whether terrorists will attempt to commemorate those dates with more mayhem? But at least a more prepared America will be better able to deal with such a tragedy.

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