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S U N D AY, S E P T E M B E R 1 1 , 2 0 1 6

News

L&T

news@hpleader.com

3A

Inspectors, business owners and police look over the earthquake


damage on Saturday, Sept. 3 in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Jessie Wardarski /Tulsa
World via AP

Additional bridge
inspections after
quake finds no damage
The agency initially
inspected 180 bridges
within a 30-mile radius of
the epicenter
PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) An
expanded inspection of bridges
following a record 5.8 magnitude
earthquake near Pawnee found no
significant damage, the Oklahoma
Department of Transportation said
Friday.
State highway system bridges
within a 60-mile radius of the
epicenter of Saturdays quake were
inspected, and all are now open to
traffic and safe for travel, the
department said.
The agency initially inspected
180 bridges within a 30-mile radius
of the epicenter, and minor
cosmetic damage was found on
two. Additional inspections were
made Wednesday and Thursday
that included 175 other bridges
after the U.S. Geological Survey
upgraded the magnitude of the
temblor from the initial 5.6 to 5.8,
making it the strongest earthquake
in recorded state history.
We are very conservative and
deliberate in our approach to
bridge inspections following an
earthquake because our first
priority is the safety of the traveling
public, said Mike Patterson,
executive director of ODOT. With
this weekends earthquake being

Backlash ...

O Continued from Page 1A


discourse is one of the bulwarks of
a free society. I find disappointing
that in our current political climate,
even a lecture on the Kansas
Constitution is considered controversial, Stanley said.

the strongest recorded in


Oklahoma, we inspected bridges in
a greater radius than our policy
requires.
The departments earthquake
policy calls for inspections
beginning with a 5-mile radius on a
4.7 magnitude temblor, expanding
to a 30-mile radius of an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 to
5.8, and within a 60-mile radius of
an earthquake with a magnitude of
5.9 to 6.2.
The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers Tulsa District also has
inspected all dams within a 50-mile
radius of the epicenter, including
dams at Birch, Cleveland Levee,
Heyburn, Kaw, Keystone and
Skiatook, and found no damage at
any of them.
The earthquake damaged more
than a dozen buildings and left one
man with a minor head injury after
a fireplace collapsed on him.
State and federal regulators have
ordered the closing of 54 wastewater disposal wells in a 725square-mile area around the
epicenter.
The uptick in earthquakes in
Oklahoma during the last five years
has been linked to the highpressure injection of oil and gas
wastewater deep underground.
Researchers have said its too early
to tell what may have caused
Saturdays quake, which was
located further east than most of
the previous quakes in Oklahoma.
Beier has been a target of antiabortion advocates for several
years. In 2010, they launched a
Fire Beier campaign seeking to
oust her in that years retention
election. Beier wrote majority
opinions on several abortion cases,
including two that criticized former
Kansas Attorney General Phill
Kline for issues arising from investigations of abortion providers.

M.A.A.M. ...
O Continued from Page 1A

in, Don Parsons from the


foundation built a stand to put it
on, and we displayed it inside the
museum, and there were several
other pieces sent to other
museums. I think we were favored
because we were an air museum,
and I know one piece went to
Seattle for its Boeing museum.
So what was the inspiration
behind officially accepting the
beam? Rash said he believes it is
because M.A.A.M. is an air
museum.
Being an ex-Air Force museum
ourselves back in the 1940s, it
created the thought that it was such
an impact on the U.S., seeing the
towers fall and the loss of lives, it
was going to be remembered for
years to come, Rash said. The
anniversary every year, it comes up
again and again. It was also our idea
to make sure the flag stayed with it
to show our pride in being part of
the U.S. and have it displayed with
it all the time.
M.A.A.M. employee Harriett
Gick also shared a memory of that
day.
I actually grew up in upstate
New York, Gick said. Not New
York City, but upstate New York.
When this happened, I immediately
thought I have to call my mother,
but then I remembered shed
passed away. Then when we saw the
beam, we were all speechless.
Overall, Rash said, he feels very
honored the beam is being
displayed locally.
We wanted all the community to
realize this was an event that came
about for America, and although
we're several thousand miles away
from New York City, we're still all

RASH
together as a community of
America, Rash said. We're very
proud to be here in Liberal
displaying a part of such a crucial
piece of American history. I
remember seeing it all unfold on
T.V., along with lots of people.
Liberal is so fortunate to have that
museum out there, it's a dream
seven of us had putting it together,
and it's something we've been able
to create.
As there are several people who
have not yet seen a piece of the
Twin Towers, Rash offered encouragement for patrons to stop by the
display in the museum.
Lots of people have never seen a
piece of the Twin Towers, and if
they go through there, for those
who can remember, it's going to
bring back those memories of what
happened, Rash said. Their
memories are going to return, and
that will make them think 'I
remember when this happened, I
remember this.' But if they don't,
their parents or older relatives can
explain to them what happened. If
people can stop, tour the museum,
and then see a piece from another
museum, that's a great honor.

S ewa r d C ou nty D i r ec to r of C o m mu nic at i on s Pa me la J o hnso n wo r ks at her des k Thu r sda y a f te r noo n at th e co mm un ic at i ons cen te r . L&T
photo/Robert Pierce

Dispatchers ...
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When we have just a small accident here and


20 people call, its overwhelming for us, let
alone an explosion. We would get the job done.
We would do our job professionally and later sit
back and think, Wow, what did we just do?
Armstrong said 9/11 has added some
additional responsibilities to the position of
dispatcher.
We have to thoroughly check our wanted
people through the National Crime Information Center and all the terrorists names,
she said. We have to make sure theyre not one
of them.
While a terrorist attack is not likely in Seward
County, Armstrong does not completely rule
out the possibility.
It could happen, she said.
Armstrong recalled three airplane crashes
and one explosion she has seen in her time as a
dispatcher, but she said none of that compares
to what happened on 9/11.
Johnson, who began working in the communication center in 1986, was enjoying a day off
from work when she saw what had happened.
I sat on the couch, drank coffee and cried,
she said. I couldnt imagine being a dispatcher
hearing your first responders calling on the
radio for help, and you have everybody you
have there. Theres nothing more you can do.
Johnson said initially, she was not sure what
would happen in the days immediately
following Sept. 11, 2001.
I remember the newscasters saying it was
confirmed as a terrorist attack, she said. In
my mind, Im thinking, Who else would fly
airplanes into a building? There was that
unsteady feeling of not being sure what was
going to be happening in the days following.
Johnson said it was hard for her to imagine
what the New York City dispatchers must have

been going through that morning.


They have all their resources on scene and
still need more, and theres nothing more they
can do for those people, she said. When your
first responders go down, who do you send to
help them? Its not somebody there within the
city. You have to wait for outside help to come
in, and youre sitting at your console completely
helpless.
Johnson said the way she has done her job
since 9/11 has changed, but only slightly.
Im always thinking one step ahead, she
said. What would I do if all of our law
enforcement people are tied up and we still
need more help? You think about calling other
counties in to assist with the law enforcement
side as well as the fire, EMS and rescue side.
Like Armstrong, Johnson said the
dispatchers in New York likely felt
overwhelmed, but also scared, helpless,
frustrated and devastated.
Johnson, too, does not rule out the likelihood
of a terrorist attack happening locally.
Being in the business for so long, you kind of
get jaded, she said. Anything can happen
anytime. You plan ahead, and hope it doesnt
happen. As for being fearful of living here, no.
Two other dispatchers, Theresa Sierra and
Nora Laird, were on duty the morning of 9/11,
and Sierra recalled seeing the images of the
planes hitting the World Trade Center.
When we came in, we were just watching it,
and it was playing the same thing over and over
and over, she said. Watching people jumping
and screaming, people hollering, people
running on the TV, just watching all that
smoke.
Sierra, who started working as dispatcher in
1988, said Seward Countys sheriff and undersheriff at the time continued to come into the
dispatch center to get updates on the situation.
Nobody knew what it was at first, she said.
They thought it was maybe an explosion.
About 20 minutes after I came in here, thats
when they figured out that it was that.
Being on duty, Sierra had many similar
feelings to those of Johnson and Armstrong.

I was scared, wondering how people could


be so cruel, she said. You dont believe
anybody would have in their head to do
something like that. As a dispatcher, it was
shocking, very shocking. I was glad I wasnt in
their shoes at that time.
Working in a rural area like Seward County,
Sierra said local dispatchers can easily handle
calls from law enforcement, EMS and
firefighters, but what was taking place on 9/11
was on a much larger scale.
Can you imagine what theyre doing, what
theyre feeling watching their officers go down,
listening to the officers hollering for help? she
asked. That had to be just horrible for them.
Youre looking for an officer, and you cant find
him. You find out hes dead. It has to be
horrible for them.
Also on duty, Laird, who began working as a
dispatcher in 1984, said she found out about
9/11 through a call from her boss.
He said, Turn around and look at the TV. A
small plane hit one of the Twin Towers, she
said. I turned around. It was horrible. I had
some more traffic, so I turned around again just
in time to see the second plane going into the
second tower. My boss called again and said,
Get me some help down here.
Laird later called then Liberal Police Chief
J.D. Leonard to inform him to get help at the
Liberal airport.
Theyve called all planes out of the air, and
we might be getting some planes out here, she
said.
Laird also called airport manager Debbie
Giskie about situation, and the dispatcher said
the footage of 9/11 nearly had her in panic
mode.
I just thought, Theres lots of people
responding to the scene, she said. Theyre
just coming and coming, the smoke, and when
the towers started falling, I just about lost it.
For most Americans, the emotional sting of
9/11 has not healed after 15 years, and they, like
the dispatchers of Seward County, will most
likely continue to consider it one of the saddest
chapters in U.S. history.