The state of Florida is ramping up security as the nation's terror alert level to goes to high. Homeland security director Tom Ridge raised the alert level to orange after reports of possible attacks that could be worse than September 11.
National defense experts say airplanes remain terrorists' weapons of choice. Florida has about 300 airports, and state security chief Steve Lauer says law enforcement will be keeping an even closer eye out for anything out of the ordinary over the holidays.
U.S security experts say Florida's better prepared than ever to respond to or prevent an attack. Since last year, Florida has received more than half a billion dollars for security measures like x-ray trucks, protective gear and smallpox vaccines. The extra efforts seem to be helping Floridians take this latest warning in stride.
In spite of the increased security threat, nearly four million Floridians will be traveling over the next two weeks, the majority by car. AAA’s Brenda Smith says travel is projected to be at its highest level in a couple of years.
And if your travel plans won't take you any farther than the local mall, you'll be in good company. The Florida Retail Association doesn't expect a high alert level to impact sales.
“We don't see any indication that's affecting shoppers. Shoppers are showing up at the malls. It just means they need to be thinking of all things in addition to Christmas plans. They need to be aware,” says Steve Lauer.
Security experts say people are less concerned about threats as September 11 becomes more distant, but those same experts say that all the more reason for law enforcement to be alert and prepared.
Authorities say contact your local police agency if you see anything that makes you uncomfortable about your security.