Residents stock up for snow, terrorism

February 17, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI and JULIE GREENE

While some Tri-State residents interviewed Saturday said they had bought products in response to warnings of snowstorms and terrorist attacks, others said they are not taking the warnings of either seriously.

"I put them both in the same category: 95 percent hype and 5 percent general information, so I generally disregard it," said David Rutherford, 59, of the Shippensburg, Pa., area.

"I'm just taking whatever comes," said Monsignor Robert S. Passarelli, pastor emeritus of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hagerstown. "Place yourself in the hands of God and prepare for the day."


Passarelli said he now lives in Frostburg, Md., where people are always prepared for snow.

Federal officials recommended this week that Americans put together emergency supply kits as a precaution for a terrorist attack or disaster.

Two items suggested for the kit were duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal a house or rooms from hazardous materials that terrorists could put in the air.

However, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Friday there is no need "to start sealing the doors or windows" against terrorist threats.

Melissa Schleigh of Hagerstown said she bought duct tape and plastic, but had not taped the plastic up yet.

"I went to Lowe's and it was hard to find," Schleigh said.

Schleigh also bought five 1-gallon jugs of water as well as milk, bread and eggs.

Martin's Food Market on Pennsylvania Avenue was so busy with people shopping for the storm that Schleigh said she spent more time in line than she did shopping.

Bernadette Gates of Hagerstown said she and her husband, Joseph, were preparing for the snowstorm and a possible terrorist attack.

"We bought milk, toilet paper, duct tape, mainly groceries. The essentials, in case we get snowed in," Gates said.

As of early Saturday afternoon, Gates said they had not taped the plastic to their one window yet, but they would probably do that when they got home.

"Just play it safe. Better to be safe than sorry because you never know what's going to happen these days," Gates said.

Others took a different view.

"I think it is kind of silly," said Steve Henry of Chambersburg, Pa.

Plastic or duct tape would not stop biological weapons, he said.

"I don't see how it can do any good," said Sharon Edgar of Chambersburg.

However, she said may buy some canned goods and bottled water, just in case.

"I think if it's going to happen, it's going to happen," said Laura Miller of Hagerstown. "I have an old house. It would take me a lot of plastic and a lot of duct tape."

Christina Johnson of Chambersburg said she worries about the warnings but not enough to justify buying anything. Johnson spoke while sitting at Valley Mall in Halfway with Audrey Holstay of Chambersburg.

"You know how some people rush to a grocery store before a storm? We don't do that," Holstay said.

"What good is plastic going to do?" asked Hagerstown resident Shirley Jones.

Mike Stanfield of Hagerstown said he's heard a lot of talk and joking about the government's advice to buy duct tape. He said he might stock up on some extra groceries.

Laura Raifsnider of Chambersburg said she is not worried enough about the warnings to warrant buying anything.

Bobby Grimm of Hagerstown and Randy Darr of Jefferson, Md., said they do not believe terrorists will attack the area so they are not buying anything out of the ordinary.

Charles Ridenour of Hagerstown said he does not think there is anything to warrant all the terrorist warnings in recent months. He thinks the warnings are attempts by President Bush's administration to scare citizens into supporting a war against Iraq.

Becky Hartman of Mercersburg, Pa., said she didn't buy plastic or duct tape, but she bought some water and extra groceries for the storm.

Instead of shopping for terrorism and storm supplies, Bernard Semler said he and his wife were out Saturday having a good time as they headed into Borders Books & Music.

As a retired military man who lived in Europe when there were terrorist threats, Semler said the threats are something people need to learn to live with in the United States.

"You learn to be a little cautious about places you go and things you do," said Semler, of Hagerstown.

As for the snowstorm, Semler and his wife, Elaine, said they went grocery shopping as usual on Friday, but they aren't stockpiling supplies.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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