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Locals witness to scene in D.C.

Annabelle Jenkins’s first thought heralded Tuesday’s common theme – too many sirens.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Annabelle Jenkins’s first thought heralded Tuesday’s common theme – too many sirens.

"We were in the archives building, in downtown D.C., and heard the the ambulances, police," Mrs. Jenkins said, speaking by phone from the nation’s capital only hours after a plane dived into the Pentagon, setting it aflame.

"I thought There are too many sirens."

An attendant told her and her husband, Ed, what had happened, prompting the Lawrence Countians – who are vacationing in D.C. – to leave the building.

"Then, it was unreal on the street," said Mrs. Jenkins. "People running the metro rail shut down in different sections, police on every corner, sirens everywhere, military helicopters circling "

Washington’s scene paled in comparison to the devastation unleashed on unsuspecting New Yorkers at the height of Tuesday’s morning rush hour.

Two hijacked planes, flying only minutes apart, crashed into the World Trade Center’s 110-story twin towers – which eventually toppled into the streets. Thousands are presumed dead and injured today.

As news spread, tears and fear touched young and old alike throughout Ohio, the nation and the world.

In Washington, the Jenkinses sat on the steps of St. Peters Catholic Church, taking a break on their way back to their hotel in Alexandria.

"The smoke from the Pentagon was as big as a city block," Mrs. Jenkins said. "People were going into the church, people were going home, construction workers were coming down off rooftops shopping malls and banks were closing."

A man drove by, holding a makeshift sign out his car window that read simply: "Pray," she said.

Mrs. Jenkins is no stranger to disaster. She works for the American Red Cross in Huntington, W.Va., and has served as Lawrence County’s Red Cross coordinator. She and her husband also work with the fire department.

"I didn’t get too scared until I saw people trying to get out of a parking garage, crawling under the doors."

Then, the situation seemed like it came from a movie, as hundreds seemingly ran for their lives, she said.

"I was terrified and it was total chaos. Real fear."

It took the Jenkinses about three hours to make it back to their hotel, where they will stay until Friday, likely taking advice from the man driving the car.