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Terrorist attack felt in Whistler

Tuesday’s terrorist attacks may have taken place on the other side of the continent, but the impact was felt in Whistler. "It’s incomprehensible.

Tuesday’s terrorist attacks may have taken place on the other side of the continent, but the impact was felt in Whistler.

"It’s incomprehensible. The closest thing I can fathom is Pearl Harbor," Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said Tuesday as details were still unfolding.

"I don’t know anyone who’s not going to be affected," O’Reilly continued. "People’s lives are in disarray, the financial market is in disarray. We’re going to spend the next 20 years looking back at this as a landmark day. It’s a turning point in history."

"It makes your blood run cold," said Counc. Ted Milner, who used to work in New York’s financial district where the World Trade Center was located.

"It’s the old part of New York, with narrow, twisty streets," Milner added. "I’m very familiar with the World Trade Center. Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter had 50 floors in the towers. We may have lost the whole company."

Eckhard Zeidler also has colleagues who work in the financial district.

"We all lost something today. The fabric of society has changed," Zeidler said.

All air travel in the United States was suspended for the first time in aviation history and international flights destined for the U.S. were diverted to Canada while officials raced to take stock of the situation. All federal buildings were closed and many companies, in Canada as well as the U.S. sent their employees home.

O’Reilly’s daughter Danielle is attending university in Tennessee, in a town near a military complex. The university and the complex were both evacuated.

"My daughter phoned to find out what was going on," O’Reilly said. "The school was closed, everyone was crying."

Milner called the hijacking of four commercial airliners and their subsequent crashing into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and a rural area near Pittsburgh "an attack on civilization."

"Whoever did this just signed a blank cheque to rid the world of all terrorists," Milner said, adding Canada should stand by the United States in this time of need.

Chuck Blaylock, a retired commercial airline pilot living in Whistler, called the events "unbelievable."

"I don’t think the pilots knew what was going on. Most pilots would never get out of the cockpit seat if they thought it was a suicide mission. They wouldn’t give up the plane," he said.

While the world tried to come to grips with the shock and enormity of the terrorist attack this week, O’Reilly said it would be months before the full impact would be understood.

"People may decide to hunker down, to spend more time with their families," he said.

Municipal officials notified all Whistler hotels Tuesday to let their guests know Victim Services counselling was available.

"We’ve co-ordinated a message to the hotels that people visiting who need help or have concerns, to let them know our services are available," O’Reilly said.

As for Whistlerites helping out victims in New York and Washington, the Salvation Army says the best way to assist is with financial donations. The Salvation Army number for donations is 1-888-321-3433.

To donate blood, call the Canadian Blood Services hotline: 1-888-2-DONATE.

Local blood clinics and donations may be set up in the next week or so, once officials have a better idea of what type of assistance is needed and how best to get it to the victims.

"They will need blood in the next few weeks and months," said Matt Souza, a member of the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium.