Video: Small town reaction

msnbc.com
updated 6/8/2005 3:47:54 PM ET 2005-06-08T19:47:54

While the coverage of missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway has dominated the airwaves around the country over the last few days, as expected, the coverage has been most intense near her hometown of Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham.

On Tuesday, MSNBC's Chris Jansing talked with Steve Hyvonen, the news director of Birmingham's WVTM-TV, about how the town is reacting to news of the missing local girl.

To read an excerpt of the interview, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click above.

Chris Jansing: This is obviously a huge story, not just where you are, but all across the country and probably in other parts of the world. Tell us first a little bit about Mountain Brook. Is this sort of typical small town USA?

Steve Hyvonen: Mountain Brook is a close-knit community, like many communities around here in Birmingham and in the south, many folks are deep-rooted in their faith. From what I can tell, their faith has really brought them together in this story. About an hour ago, I went down to the press conference where Natalee's Aunt was speaking and I got a chance to talk with her a little bit and you can tell that this is an emotional strain on the family. But thanks to the community support that they are getting, they're able to see their way through this somehow.

Jansing: Tell us a little bit about what the community is doing. I know that often in a time of stress, these communities often try as much as they can to reach out. Because Natalie's lost in Aruba, they can't all go down there, but what are they doing in the community?

Hyvonen: ...There have been yellow ribbons going up all over the community, not just in Mountain Brook, but all over the Birmingham area. You see yellow ribbons almost everywhere you go. The entire community has really come together in support of Natalee. Just today, they announced they are going to make some bracelets that show support for Natalee. They announced a new website on which people can go and leave their messages of hope and prayers for Natalee. Those are some of the things that they are doing.

Jansing: I was talking to Mark Klass, who lost his daughter Polly. He now heads an organization for missing children. He was suggesting that there should be at least one adult chaperone for every 10 kids on a trip like this. I'm wondering if there is a lot of second-guessing going on there, questions being raised for the procedures that were followed for this, I guess, un-official class trip?

Hyvonen: Sure, there is a lot of second-guessing going on, from the chaperones, to the police response, to the friends. I don't think anyone is blaming any one person or any one entity in this case. It's difficult for everybody involved, because everybody just wants to find this girl, so there's not a whole lot of public finger pointing going on right now. I think that makes sense at this point, because everybody just really wants to find Natalee.

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