by: Chris Legeros Updated:Port Angeles, Wash. —
Just before midnight last Thursday, the sound of low-flying helicopters filled the sky over Port Angeles. They were loud enough to wake up people who were sleeping. The Army said the Chinook and Blackhawk choppers were on a training exercise. The trouble is, no one in Port Angeles knew that, not even the sheriff or police. "We didn't know who they were, we didn't know what they were doing and so it was perceived as something dangerous," said Mayor Cherie Kidd.
Some residents panicked and dialed 911. Dispatchers couldn't offer the callers an explanation. Some local residents were afraid the helicopters were searching for a dangerous criminal outside their homes. "My fear got out of hand and I got a little anxiety, and I'm like why am I feeling like this, where is this even coming from," said Matthew Arena.
Kidd brought her concerns directly to a commander at Joint Base Lewis McChord. She said Col. Chuck Hodges was apologetic and admitted the public was not properly notified and promised that the city would by be contacted well in advance is there should be another exercise. The mayor was even more pleased to hear that there are no planned exercises in the foreseeable future over Port Angeles.