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Thirteen years ago, Bellingham was on edge after 9/11 attacks

Like much of the rest of the country, which could only watch as the horrific Sept. 11 attacks unfolded on television, Bellingham was on edge after the terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. 13 years ago.

Here's one of our stories from that day, by former reporter Sharon Michael:

ATTACK IMPACT: BP refinery, Bellis Fair mall among businesses taking security measures.

BELLINGHAM - Tuesday morning's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., affected business and commerce across the nation, including Whatcom County.

Security at BP's Cherry Point refinery was beefed up Tuesday, according to spokesman Scott Walker.

"All incoming vehicles not known to be refinery personnel are being stopped and searched, " he said.

Security personnel are also searching rail cars and trucks before allowing them on refinery property and perimeter security patrols have been added, he said.

"We've heard across the country they're taking added security precautions at refineries, for obvious reasons, " Walker said.

Agents at U.S.-Canada border crossings also are exercising extra caution.

"There's still traffic coming through, but it's slow, " said Tim Lynch, president of TC Trans Inc. in Blaine. "They're checking everything very carefully."

Lynch said customs officials had requested that companies hold shipments that didn't have to move Tuesday.

"Right now, they're saying if you don't have to cross, don't, " he said. "We're holding everything until tomorrow."

Lynch said the Lynden crossing was closed but Brent Weg, one of the owners of CCI Transport Inc. in Lynden said he had no problems getting his trucks across the border this morning.

Weg said he is getting conflicting reports about the status of the Lynden crossing.

"You hear that it's closed, and then it's not, " he said.

But he doesn't have to worry about it again until this morning.

Bellis Fair shopping mall kept the doors locked Tuesday morning, but it is scheduled to open today at its normal 10 a.m. opening time.

General Manager Bob Buchanan said Tuesday's closure was a corporate decision made out of respect for the national tragedy and due to security concerns.

"We're being cautious, " he said. "We just want to be responsible with our property because it's a public space."

No effect on local banks

Wall Street and the stock exchange, just blocks from the World Trade Center, shut down immediately and could remain closed today.

"They closed the exchange right away, " said Larry Evans, Horizon Bank chairman.

But he said there is no effect on local banking operations.

"The fed wire system has not been impacted at this point, " he said.

That means that wire fund transfers can be completed, he said.

Evans said Horizon Bank, a Bellingham-based institution, is fully operational. Customers have not panicked and employees also are "doing OK, " he said. But Evans said he doesn't know of anyone who had family or friends working in the buildings hit by the attacks.

The attacks will have far-reaching emotional effects on people directly affected the attacks but the economy will also feel the effects for a long time to come, says Frank Zurline, owner of Bellingham Travel and Cruise Service Inc.

"This was such a horrible and large scale catastrophe, " Zurline said. "It will be many, many years of recovery. Not only the travel industry, but the whole economy will suffer."

The Federal Aviation Administration's closure of airports throughout the nation stranded passengers and freight.

"To shut down the airports is pretty much to shut down the nation, " Zurline said.

Travel agents can't help

Travel agents have been taking calls from customers, but Zurline said there is nothing anyone can do until the FAA reopens the airports.

"The security is so tight, I don't imagine (the shutdown) will last more than 24 hours, " Zurline said.

People are questioning airport security right now, and that will hurt an already ailing travel industry, he said.

"With the state of the economy, a lot of travel has been reduced anyway, " he said. "Now with this, people are scared."

The attacks will likely cause people to reconsider trips abroad and even air travel within the United States, he said.

"When things like this happen, people want to stick close to home, " Zurline said.

Air service

The nation's airports are scheduled to reopen at noon today, but restarting the largest aviation system in the world after an unprecedented 27-hour shutdown will be anything but smooth, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport officials said Tuesday.

"Certain aircraft are not where they need to be to start their day. It could take days"before the system is functioning smoothly, said Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.