Is East Texas Prepared for Terrorism?

By Larry Little

I asked is the city ready for a disaster? "We certainly prepare, plan for, planning for emergencies and disaster events," says Duane Freeman of Lufkin Emergency Management.

But are East Texas towns ready for a terrorist attack?

Everyday security is tight at Lufkin City Hall. City employees work behind windows and you need a security code to enter most areas. But just how secure is one of the most important building in lufkin?   I took a red backpack, as if a were a bomb inside it, to Lufkin City Hall. Once inside I was free to roam the building and send my bomb to the second floor on the elevator. If a bomb were in the backpack, no one at the Lufkin Fire Department or the Lufkin Police Department could do anything except evacuate the area and wait three hours for specialized help to arrive.

"To train a bomb squad disposal unit is terribly expensive. We call our person out of Ft. Polk, La. Most cities are size are going to have to do that only the metro areas can afford to equip and maintain a unit like that," says Lt. David Young with Lufkin Police.

If the bomb were to detonate in an East Texas town, authorities would also need to call for state and federal resources. "We would be calling outside resources. This would probably something that exceeded the capabilities for our local departments to respond to," says Freeman.

Most East Texas cities would like to be ready to handle all disasters, even a terrorist attack, but because of small budgets, that's not always possible.