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The Days After (Live History)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 2:42 p.m. EDT, Louisville, Kentucky, USA:

"...as you may or may not have noticed, we've had some problems with our satellite feed for the past half-hour, so we've been playing Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. We think we have our problem resolved, so in the meantime we'll pay the bills and get back to the best classic rock in the River City. This is the Walrus, LRS 102, Jeffersonville/Louisville." - transcript of disc jockey Mason Dixon, WLRS-FM 102.3, attempting to explain the loss of the station's satellite feed from 1:54 p.m.

2:46 p.m. EDT, transcript from The Jack Fox Show, WHAS-AM:

"We're operating under quite a bit of uncertainty at the moment, and we don't want to unnecessarily alarm anyone. Here's what we know: the plane taking the University of Louisville basketball team was diverted to St. Louis and landed safely there. We also know that planes are being diverted to Louisville International Airport as well as to Standiford Field. We have been able to place calls to people east of the Mississippi, and in cities along that part of the country like St. Louis. We have not been able to place calls to anyone west of Springfield, Missouri, as well as to the Washington, D.C. area. We know of no catastrophe, natural or otherwise, that may have affected the western part of the nation or the nation's capital--" (this is when the station's signal was interrupted by the Emergency Alert System, along with most of the radio and television stations in the Louisville market. For reasons yet unexplained, the EAS signal did not override some stations' signals, allowing them to continue programming)

2:49 p.m. EDT, transcript from WLN-TV 8's studios in downtown Louisville, special coverage anchored by reporter Christie Harnest in the station's newsroom:

"...we're still on? How is that possible....we're LIVE? (looks up at the camera). Uh...WLN is getting reports of a loss of communications with parts of the United States from numerous callers, who either lost conversations with those in the western U.S. and the Washington D.C. area, or saw network signals go dark in the past 10, 15 minutes from New York. Some cable stations remain on the air, some do not....we've been in contact with our parent company, Tribune, in Chicago, but can't raise anyone in Washington. And now we're told that we're one of what, five? radio and TV stations in town still broadcasting?...the others have gone to EAS? (camera switches quickly to general manager Randy Payne) "Christie, I've been in contact with people at WWOR TV in New York. Before I lost the call, I was on a business call. I heard commotion in the background, and one of the people saying there had been given an 'evac' order. I then heard 'we've got to get out NOW' and the person I was speaking to saying 'I've got to go'. We can't get through to New York or DC but can get through to Philadelphia, to Atlanta and to Chicago and they're in the dark as much as we are. (Payne looks up, a staffer almost shoves a laptop in his face while holding it) What the hell are you..........God almighty.....wait, confirm this! Get CONFIRMATION!"

2:51 p.m., a post from the Louisville Times website that Payne was looking at. It was the only article on the site's front page at the moment:

WASHINGTON DC ATTACKED

TWO MUSHROOM CLOUDS SPOTTED IN THE DC AREA FROM BALTIMORE MARYLAND

Times reporters in Baltimore report seeing two mushroom clouds in the direction of Washington D.C. followed by frenzied, uncontrollable crowds and frantic activity in downtown Baltimore by local police and the national guard.

Skip Hanley, the Times beat writer for Jefferson University men's basketball, and sports columnist Marc Conley reported seeing a bright flash from the south in their hotel rooms at 2:38 p.m., followed by a large blasts, and the sight two mushroom clouds rising in the sky from the south. Before cell phone and email contact was lost with both writers at 2:43, they reported seeing panicked, "uncontrollable" crowds of people fleeing from nearby buildings, in some cases running head-on into National Guard and Baltimore police vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.

Editors on the phone with Mr. Hanley reported hearing a loud knock in the background and a voice yelling "D.C.'s been attacked".

One picture - taken by Mr. Conley's cell phone - was received in the Times offices, indeed showing two mushroom clouds rising above a nearby building. That picture will be posted to this website very shortly. It does not indicate the magnitude of the blasts, nor where they were centered.

Contact with Mr. Hanley and Mr. Conley was lost at 2:43 and the Times has been unable to reach them, or photographers Michael Leyman and Sean Lyons, since, nor has the Times been able to reach anyone at the hotel they were staying at. All four men were in Baltimore to cover Jefferson University's second-round NCAA game against St. John's at the Baltimore Arena on Thursday.

The Times has been in contact with staffers at newspapers in Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston and St. Louis but cannot contact anyone in the Washington DC area, nor anywhere west of St. Louis.

3:14 p.m. - transcript of CNN special report:

"....CNN has confirmed the detonation of two nuclear bombs in Washington, D.C. at 2:38 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, over a half-hour ago. The whereabouts of President Obama and Vice-President Biden are unknown."

4:04 p.m. - excerpt of press conference led by Mayor John Yarmuth:

"...We are declaring martial law effective immediately throughout Metro Louisville and all of Jefferson County; this is to help ensure the protection of the public while we ascertain the extent of the situation in Washington and in the western United States. This is a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. If you are working during curfew hours, you will be allowed to go to work. Police Chief White will share the details in a few minutes on how that will work. My office has been in contact with Governor Abramson and his office in Frankfort, as well as those in charge at Fort Knox and Godman Air Force Base. I feel safe in saying that I'm confident there is no immediate threat to Louisville nor any other city or town in the region."

6:23 p.m. - headlines on the Louisville Times website:

YARMUTH DECLARES MARTIAL LAW; PLEADS FOR CALM

TENS OF THOUSANDS HAVING DIFFICULTY ACCESSING BANK ACCOUNTS

NATIONAL GUARD, LMPD, MARINES GUARDING VIRTUALLY ALL SUPERMARKETS, GAS STATIONS

ABRAMSON IN CONTACT WITH OTHER AREA STATE GOVERNORS

INTERSTATES 64, 65, 71 SECURED BY NATIONAL GUARD, ARMY THROUGHOUT STATE, SOUTHERN INDIANA

THOUSANDS FLEEING METRO LOUISVILLE FOR COUNTRYSIDE

VIOLENCE AT NUMEROUS KENTUCKIANA SUPERMARKETS

LMPD IN SHOOTOUT WITH LOOTERS IN NORTHWEST, SOUTHWEST SECTORS

HARDIN COUNTY IN 24-HOUR CURFEW

MILITARY ROADBLOCKS IN PLACE ALONG I-65, DIXIE HIGHWAY

LENNON/YOKO CONCERT, ICEHAWKS GAME POSTPONED

Thursday, March 17

7:14 a.m., Twitter feed of Charles Waylon McFarland, a 17-year-old resident of Radcliff, Kentucky:

"man its crazy out there! Army's guarding Wal-Mart, only letting in employees like me; one said Hilary's in charge! Crazy! Stay safe"

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