- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (AP) — They have waited and prayed for good news for a week, refusing to give up hope that 18-year-old Natalee Holloway will be found alive and come back home.

The belief has kept residents of this upscale suburb and Miss Holloway’s anxious family tightly bound since the teen went missing May 30 during a senior class trip to Aruba.

“You don’t want that to happen to anybody’s family,” said Nikki Quick, manager of a gift shop in the mostly residential, tree-lined community of 22,000 that is home to many of the Birmingham area’s most well-to-do families.

An aunt of Miss Holloway, Marcia Twitty, said that the girl’s mother — though on ?an emotional roller coaster” — is staying upbeat: “I know Natalee is alive, and I’m going to find her,” she quoted her as saying.

The hope is shared from one town to the other. Yellow ribbons are attached to everything from mailboxes to automated teller machines.

“We’re just showing that we’re supporting her family and everyone down there wanting to bring her home,” Miss Quick said.

Miss Quick spent Monday morning redecorating the show window in front of her business with only yellow items — her own small way of showing support. A handmade sign on the sidewalk outside said “Pray for Natalee.”

Mountain Brook Mayor Terry Oden said he’s not at all surprised residents have banded together. “Most people have lived here all their lives, and we care for each other,” he said.

In Aruba, the effort to find the young woman grew Monday. About 700 volunteers joined police, soldiers and FBI agents combing beaches on the Dutch Caribbean island’s southeastern tip. Aruba’s government let 4,000 civil servants off work early to hunt for the teen.

“It’s the first time Aruba has done such a big search,” said Kenneth Angela, among the hundreds of searchers. ?We want to keep Aruba’s name good. That’s why we’re here, to help find Natalee.”

Police commander Judy Hassell said Aruba’s 74 square miles made a full search of the island impractical.

Two suspects, ages 28 and 30, have been arrested in connection with the disappearance. Neighbors said the pair worked as security guards at a hotel under renovation near the one in which Miss Holloway stayed.

The Aruba government and local tourism organizations have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Miss Holloway’s rescue. Her family and benefactors in Alabama have offered $30,000 in addition.

Miss Holloway went to Aruba with more than 100 other recent Mountain Brook High School graduates on a senior class trip, along with seven adult chaperones. The trip to Aruba is not sponsored by the school, Mr. Oden said.

The night she disappeared, Miss Holloway went to a beach concert and then ate and danced at Carlos ‘n Charlie’s bar and restaurant. She did not show up for her return flight hours later, and police found her passport in her hotel room with her bags.

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