Florida Reaction to Heightened Terror Alert

The increased terrorism threat level for financial targets in the northeast is raising concerns in Florida too. Florida’s Homeland Security Advisor Mike McHargue was on the phone this weekend with U.S. Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge.

“We’re operating in a climate where it’s ripe for additional threats, so the news yesterday is news, but it’s not unexpected,” says McHargue.

McHargue welcomed the specific geographic information that previous threats have not included. He says although the state will keep its guard up, it’s helpful to know Florida is not a specific target, but any threat to financial targets is obviously a concern to Floridians and everybody else.

Imagine if you had no access to your credit cards or ATM for several days. Florida’s tourism economy depends largely on credit card spending, but the $50 billion tourism industry in Florida has invested heavily in additional measures to protect visitor safety.

Robert Bosselman is a tourism expert at Florida State University. He says theme parks and hotels have much more sophisticated security since September 11th.

“You’re not going to see it be overly visible. It’s going to be very, very behind the scenes, but the businesses in our field have taken very significant steps to prevent, you know, limit any type of activity that might occur,” says Bosselman.

For now, Florida’s alert level remains at yellow, but security officials say any elevated risks elsewhere in the U.S. will also keep people on their toes here.

Security experts recommend Floridians take precautions much like they would for a hurricane.