Originally published on Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and attacked the Pentagon in Virginia on Tuesday, but the assault rumbled much farther – through Maine, through the nation, through the world.

State officials scrambled to react – Gov. Angus King closed the state Capitol complex – and ordinary citizens sat helpless in front of televisions and telephones, waiting for information.

Things seemed to stop.

No one knows yet how many people were killed when one airplane and then another crashed into the World Trade Center, and when yet another flew into the Pentagon.

This much is certain: Nearly everyone in the country knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, who was killed or injured in the attacks.

“It has changed us forever, ” U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said.

All Louise Glynn could think of was her daughter.

Glynn, who lives in Portland, knew that her daughter, Robin Soumas, worked in the Express store in the World Trade Center. Glynn could barely move most of Tuesday.

Finally, late in the afternoon, her daughter called.

“I was never so scared in all my life, ” Glynn said. “Oh, it was awful, but she made it out. She was on the first floor . . . When she called me, she was hysterical, crying.”

Her daughter, a Deering High School graduate, told her that she had walked for almost five hours to get home because the subways were closed.

The anguish continued on Tuesday night for Maine families with loved ones still unaccounted for.

“We’ve been watching TV pretty much for as long as we can take it, ” said Susan Moore, whose 33-year-old brother, Stephen Ward, started a job on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center last month.

Ward, a Gorham High School graduate, was excited about being in the world’s financial center, she said. Moore and her parents, who live in Scarborough, waited anxiously for any word about him.

“He doesn’t even have an apartment yet, ” Moore said tearfully. “We’ve talked to the American Red Cross, we’ve called hospitals and the company headquarters, ” unable to learn his fate and often unable to get through on fragmented and overburdened telephone systems.

As the day went on, a strange and uncomfortable feeling descended over Portland.

Downtown was as quiet as it is on Christmas. Many shops and restaurants closed early, traffic was light. Gritty McDuff’s, a bar that usually bustles, was close to silent. CNN was on the television, and patrons paid attention.

It was like that up and down the state. People did not know what to do, what to think.

“I know people don’t feel safe, ” said U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat who represents Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

“None of us are ever perfectly safe in this life, and this is an indication of how much damage can be done by people who are determined to give up their own lives in support of some distorted political principle.”

So airports and military installations increased security. Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled cruise of the Scotia Prince from Portland to Nova Scotia left without passengers, so it could pick up other passengers scheduled to return to Portland tonight.

The Portland International Jetport closed, and police turned travelers away.

Brunswick Naval Air Station remained operational, but it was locked down. Security guards, dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles, patrolled the main gate.

To protect Bath Iron Works, which builds Navy destroyers, the U.S. Coast Guard shut down the Kennebec River to recreational boat traffic.

The attack, which U.S. Sen. Susan Collins called “an act of war, ” shocked people across Maine.

“How can one person do that to another group of people?” asked Steve Horne as he watched the television at Sarge’s Tailgate Grille in Saco. “How can things in their world be so bad that they have to do this?”

The attacks, which many suspect were ordered by Osama bin Laden, the terrorist, provoked horror among many Muslims.

Portland police stationed an officer at Catholic Charities Maine, which has a refugee resettlement program, and Deputy Police Chief William Ridge said officials kept a close watch on the city’s mosque to make sure that someone “didn’t get retribution in his head and decide that was the place to do it.”

Hospitals, too, are affected.

The Red Cross asked doctors to delay non-emergency surgery so that available blood supplies can be routed to the disaster areas, and officials asked people to donate blood to bolster supplies.

Dr. Anthony Tomassoni, a physician in Maine Medical Center’s emergency room and medical director of the Maine Poison Center, was dispatched to New York City by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help. Dr. Sean Stone, a resident at the hospital, joined him.

Schools handled the situation as they could.

At Yarmouth High School, each teacher read an announcement out loud. Later, they read another. And then another.

Administrators called in crisis response teams, and Mary Jo O’Connor, superintendent of the Portland school system, ordered all of the city’s 20 public schools locked down for the day.

School systems across the state canceled all sporting events.

“It’s not crucial if we miss a day or two of games, ” said Scott Shibles, athletic director at Deering High School. “We can make those up.

“It’s better to have families together so that they can talk about what happened and allay any fears they may have.”

Staff writers Bart Jansen, Giselle Goodman, David Hench, Kevin Thomas, Tom Chard, Mike Lowe, Mark Shanahan, Grace Murphy, Ted Cohen, Dennis Hoey, Tom Bell and Selena Ricks contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Joshua L. Weinstein can be contacted at 791-6368 or at:

[email protected]