States step up terrorism info
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Oct 08, 2001
Arizona Division of Emergency Management
With terrorism a major focus in America these days, state emergency management
agencies—accustomed to providing information about natural disasters
—are expanding their Web sites to better inform citizens about terrorism's
From listing links to outlining what to do in case of an emergency,
agency Web sites have become a stepping stone for many people seeking more
information about terrorism and being ready for further attacks, said representatives
from several state agencies.
Some representatives said they had information about terrorism posted
before the attacks, but saw a need to augment it.
"It has been there, but after Sept. 11, we did recognize the need to
enhance the Web site and put more information on that Web site so Floridians
and other citizens can access that," said Ann Rowe, spokeswoman for the
Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Florida's site recommends that people have a family disaster plan in
place, which includes rally points—where the family can physically meet
if separated—and a disaster supply kit. Its site, like many other state
sites, provides links to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American
Red Cross and other groups.
In Virginia, where the Pentagon was attacked Sept. 11, the Department
of Emergency Management posted news releases on how the state was handling
the situation, said Janet Clements, the department's director of public
affairs. The agency also set up an electronic sign-up system for people
to receive news releases. Department officials had speculated that media
outlets would be the primary users of the service, but Clements said many
citizens and businesses also used it.
She said many people have been e-mailing the agency, asking for additional
information. That, she said, tells her that people are viewing the Web site
more. She said the site has "proven its weight, being a really viable and
important way to communicate to all our audiences in an unfiltered way."
In Arizona, Karen Paulsen, assistant director for the state Division
of Emergency Management, said the agency has added information to its site
in response to phone calls and inquiries from the public. "It's made people
aware of our role...perhaps [that] wasn't there before," she said.
She added that agency officials have been pitching the Web site address
on several recent radio talk shows.
Maria Smith, spokeswoman for Pennsylvania's Emergency Management Agency,
said her state has been working on terrorism planning for a long time and
has recently received a lot of e-mail messages regarding the subject. She
said people, including reporters, are asking about gas masks. Agency officials
are forming a response to that subject, she said, adding that they're recommending
against people buying them.
Pennsylvania also plans to link all the state agency Web sites to a
central repository of emergency information, although she said officials
have only just begun talking about that.
But despite all the information regarding terrorism, state representatives
said there's just no way to really prepare for terrorism.
"In the case of terrorism, it's not the same," Clements said. "It is
very, very different. The place and time and the agent is unknown, and because
of those three issues, it's difficult to get a laundry list of information."