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Calif. Near Standstill After Attacks

September 12, 2001

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Terrorist attacks involving four jetliners bound for California brought the state to a near standstill Tuesday, closing government buildings, offices, airports and even Disneyland.

The Navy was on high alert, restricting access to eight of its bases along California’s coast and one in Fallon, Nev.

Three of the airplanes were bound for Los Angeles International Airport and the fourth was en route to San Francisco International Airport. Both airports were evacuated and closed.

Bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled airport hallways in San Francisco and a counseling center was set up for relatives. Airlines said 226 passengers and crew were on board all four planes, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City. One plane struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and another crashed in Pennsylvania.

``They brought America to our knees and it scares the hell out of me,″ said traveler Beth Tabler of San Diego, waiting for a flight at Lindbergh Field.

Gov. Gray Davis ordered state buildings to be evacuated and set up a makeshift command post at a California Highway Patrol training academy. Twenty-four CHP helicopters were monitoring bridges, aqueducts and the state’s two nuclear power plants.

Flights were scheduled to resume out of San Francisco on Wednesday. It wasn’t clear when flights would resume at other major California airports, but officials warned travelers to expect tough security and long delays.

San Francisco closed its City Hall and tightened security at the Golden Gate Bridge and other landmarks.

California Highway Patrol Commissioner D.O. ``Spike″ Helmick said authorities had received threats ``but none of them have been verified so we are not aware of any real threat to our people.″ He would not elaborate on the threats.

Among the major tourist attractions closed were Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County and Los Angeles’ Library Tower, at 1,017 feet the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

``I was like, ’Get me out of here,‴ said Angela Nalu, reporting for her first day at an office in the Library Tower. ``There was so much tension in the room. Everybody was trying to do their work and get out.″

The Second Annual Latin Grammy Awards, scheduled for Tuesday night in Los Angeles, were postponed along with the 53rd annual Prime-time Emmy Awards scheduled for Sunday.

Coast Guard vessels escorted ships entering California ports and inspectors checked cargo before allowing entry into Long Beach and Los Angeles, which handle about 35 percent of the cargo coming into America.

At the San Ysidro port of entry east of San Diego _ the world’s busiest land border crossing _ the border was open but traffic was backed up into Tijuana, Mexico, while federal agents searched each northbound vehicle.