Gov. Rowland says state is safe, ready to aid N.Y.

HARTFORD — Gov. John G. Rowland said yesterday Connecticut is safe and should now focus on helping its neighbors.

“There’s no reason to believe that any people, institutions or buildings in Connecticut are a target,” Rowland said.

Rowland addressed the people of Connecticut Tuesday afternoon from the State Armory in Hartford in a bomb shelter-like room filled with Connecticut officials, reporters and officers from the Army and the National Guard.

The National Guard prepared to aid New York in whatever way possible by moving equipment and personnel to a staging area in Fairfield County.

“We’re on stand-by right now,” said Major John Whitford, state public affairs officer for the Connecticut National Guard. “We have equipment ready and personnel ready to support New York if and when needed.”

The governor said later Tuesday the state would be sending rescue personnel to New York Wednesday. Some casualties had already been moved to Connecticut hospitals by late yesterday afternoon, and 80 to 90 military medical personnel were sent to New York.

Connecticut hospitals have 900 beds available to help the rescue effort, Rowland said.

Rowland said the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Children and Families have already mobilized to provide counseling for those involved and those with loved ones involved.

Rowland said 50,000 Connecticut residents commute each day by train to New York.

“It’s hard to determine how many Connecticut residents have been impacted by this tragedy,” he said.

Trains are still running from Fairfield and New Haven counties to New York on a Saturday schedule, carrying only a few volunteers, and returning full of people struggling to leave the city.

Rowland said state officials had received some bomb threats, but he dismissed them as “mimics.”

“We take everything seriously, but nothing came from that,” Rowland said.

State buildings were closed yesterday, but Rowland said the state allowed local schools and businesses to make their own decisions on closing. New Haven schools remained open Tuesday. Rowland expects businesses and schools to be open today.

There were no flights diverted to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Rowland said. He also assured reporters that the airport had been searched “top to bottom.”

Bradley International Airport will re-open when the Federal Aviation Administration allows flights to resume.

Rowland stressed the power of prayer and the importance of counseling others, especially family members. Donating blood, he said, is the “most significant thing they can do right now.”

“This event is so horrific. I’m not sure we can ever get back to normal life,” Rowland said.

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