'No retaliation can take this pain away'
Reports from Deirdre Kelly, Patrick Brethour, Kevin Cox, Colin Freeze, Wallace Immen, Associated Press, Reuters and CNN
Thursday, September 13, 2001
'I saw one of the jet engines on Murray Street and West Broadway," said Rob Lewis, a 42-year-old freelance photographer, ". . . three blocks away from where the incident happened."
He saw someone make a grab for part of the engine, smouldering on the sidewalk. "I was like, 'Hey mister, you've gotta put that back. That's the evidence.' He's like, 'Who are you?' I'm like, 'I'm a citizen who cares about what's going on here. This isn't about collecting souvenirs.'
"So I saw an FBI agent and I tapped him on the shoulder and I said, 'There's a knucklehead over here trying to steal some evidence.' He went to the guy and says, 'Buddy, where did you get that from? . . . You're coming with me, pal.' "
Daphne Bowers's daughter, Veronique, who worked at the World Trade Center, called her mother after the first plane hit: "She called me when the building was on fire. She called me and said, 'Mommy, the building is on fire, there's smoke coming through the walls. I can't breathe.' The last thing she said was 'I love you, Mommy, goodbye.' And that was at 9:05."
"I was wondering what I could do to help when I got a call about noon from the New York Police Department," said Marianne Bertrand, founder of Toronto-based Muttluks Inc., which produces protective leather boots for guide dogs and police dogs. "This is an extreme situation. The dogs are out there all day and they won't stop digging through the wreckage even if their paws are bleeding."
She offered to donate 60 sets of the paw covers made of soft boot leather for the bloodhounds, golden retrievers and German shepherds that are being sent by police departments to New York for the rescue effort.
But there was a problem. With the U.S. border closed, there was no way to send the Muttluks from the Toronto factory. So Bertrand asked the company's U.S. distributor to send a rush courier shipment to New York City. "Fortunately, they had enough in stock. If it makes the dogs better able to their work, it is reward enough."
Todd, a 32-year-old equities trader, was speaking on the phone to a friend on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center at 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday. When Todd called back 10 minutes later, he couldn't get an answer. "He has probably perished. He's not with us right now. . . . I like retaliation and I am an angry guy as it is. But there is no retaliation that can take this pain away."
"I'm afraid that the repercussions of a military offensive by this country, and its reaction by any Arab, Islamic or fundamentalist regime, will put us in a state of Armageddon and eventually nuclear war," said Lee Fleischer, an education professor in Brooklyn who had to flee his home. He was unnerved by President George W. Bush's declaration that the United States would go after whoever gave the terrorists asylum. " 'Harbour' is a justification label that will give him the ability to go to an city or country and destroy it by whatever means -- nuclear."
"I don't want people like that in the country," nursing-home worker Luz Medina said as she took a break yesterday on a park bench with some colleagues. "All the Muslims. Send them back home. All their churches -- they have to close them and send them people back. I don't like that people. Period."
Hundreds of New Yorkers cheered a seemingly endless convoy of emergency vehicles carrying police, firefighters, soldiers, construction workers, doctors to the scene of devastation. Shouts of "U.S.A." greeted driver after driver, who would respond with brave thumbs ups.
"It makes me so glad to live in the United States of America," said Patrick Delaney, 41, who waved a U.S. flag and a homemade sign reading, "Thank you, heros," and "God bless you."
". . . This is the greatest country in the world and those people that did what they did are certainly going to pay severely. America stands for freedom and they can't take that away."
Ronnie Clifford managed to escape the burning World Trade Center before it crumbled to the ground. His brother, John Clifford, said in an interview from Cork, Ireland: "I was very concerned when the two buildings collapsed because I knew Ronnie worked in one. He phoned to say he made it -- he was okay, traumatized, that he was within an inch of his life."
But the Cliffords still could not escape tragedy. "Tragically, my sister hit the tower building as my brother was on the ground floor," John Clifford said. Ruth McCourt, 45, and her four-year-old daughter were on board the United Airlines Flight 175 that slammed into the second tower.
Eric and Jennifer Sinigalli, who live near Boston, were overwhelmed by the welcome they received in Nova Scotia. But after spending 11 hours on an airplane on the Halifax runway and a night at a local arena, they decided to take a 14-hour bus ride home instead of waiting for a plane to finish their trip that began in Amsterdam on Monday.
Jennifer Sinigalli said she couldn't face another airplane trip after seeing the images of the passenger planes slamming into the World Trade Center.
She and her husband found the beds, food and encouragement they received at the hastily erected emergency shelter at Exhibition Park in Halifax a stark contrast to the brutality of the terrorist attack.
"You go from the extreme of that evil to the extreme generosity of everyone up here."
The Children's Health Services Building in Midtown Manhattan has become a makeshift depot for people seeking information about loved ones. Worried friends and relatives, many bearing snapshots and homemade missing-persons posters, were lined up since dawn.
Paul Raschilla who was waiting for news of Palmina Delligatti, 34, a friend he has known since elementary school. She was in the first tower that was hit, on the 98th floor. "I'm very hopeful," Raschilla said. "I have had good reports about people in that area who were also on the higher floors and who have survived.
"And besides, she usually runs late, and so I'm hoping she was late for work yesterday. She's a strong woman, a survivor, beautiful, bright, caring. She cares deeply for her father. We are here because he can't be here today, he is having chest pains."
Naomi Konovitch spent yesterday looking for her brother-in-law, Andrew Zucker, who worked for a law firm on the 86th floor of the south tower. "Yesterday, my brother-in-law went to work at Tower 2 in the World Trade Center. The last we heard was that he was coming down the stairs in the staircase and no one's seen him since.
"I've been going with a family friend to check all of the hospitals, to check lists. We even went to the medical examiner's office. There's nothing to do except make phone calls and keep going to different hospitals and asking. We keep passing his picture around and hoping that anyone who saw anything or saw him might be able to give us some information about where he is or if he's okay. . . .
"We spoke to one of the partners from his law firm who had seen him and said were it not for my brother-in-law, people would still be sitting at their desks. Andrew went around and told them all that they should get out of the building. . . . After the first plane hit, my sister called him and he said, 'I'm okay. I'll call you back.' She hasn't heard from him. . . . He's the kind of person who would put other's safety before his own."
Walter Masterson, 55, who worked in information technology for Credit Suisse in the World Trade Center: "I heard this huge boom and I saw large pieces of debris flying past my window. I was in building No. 5, on the ninth floor. I thought perhaps the tower was coming down.
"I got under my desk and was going to stay there until the debris stopped coming down, but then it became clear that it wasn't going to stop. So I got out from under my desk and helped evacuate the floor and then I left the building.
"I was walking down Church Street looking up at the tower that was burning. There is a Roman Catholic Church there and I ducked in to say a prayer and then I heard the boom of the second plane. People were running everywhere. The police and fire department were herding them.
"There were people who were crying. They were not screaming, but they were horrified that their friends had been killed. It was just an astonishing thing to be around."
John Ibbitson, The Globe and Mail's Washington correspondent, writes:
Walking to work yesterday morning, Washington actually seemed calmer than normal, the traffic lighter, perhaps because so many people had decided to stay home from work. It was easy, five blocks from the yellow tape surrounding the White House precinct, to imagine that nothing had happened, that America was not staggering beneath the weight of the greatest peacetime disaster of its history, until I saw the woman.
She was young, perhaps in her mid-20s, and a professional, smartly dressed in a beige skirt and blouse, and she was on a cellphone, as everyone in Washington always is.
Except that she was crying. She was seated on a concrete bench, one hand cradling her bowed head, the other clasping the phone, her shoulders hunched, tears coursing down her cheeks.
Who was it she had lost -- a friend, a relative, a colleague? Had she just received news, or had the pressure of the waiting, of the near certainty that someone was gone, proved too much?
Thousands and thousands of people died yesterday, most of them professionals -- white-collar workers in law offices and brokerage firms in New York; military personnel and civilian staff in Washington. The sort of people who would be her friends. The sort of people who would be her brother and sister, her mother and father.
I was tempted. If I waited until she got off the phone, perhaps she would tell me her story, perhaps it would be something I could report.
But it wasn't in me. I moved on.