2011-09-09 / 9/11 10th Anniversary

Scores Reported Missing in WTC Terrorist Attack

By Howard Schwach

Originally published September 22, 2001.

While it is still much too early to tell, a survey of local churches, synagogues and other institutions on the peninsula indicates that upwards of 75 Rockaway residents have been reported as missing in the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan last Tuesday.

And, while there are always many unsubstantiated rumors at a time such as this, the reports come from credible organizations and individuals, and have to be taken seriously.

Despite that fact, The Wave editorial board has decided not to publish any names on these pages until the facts have been corroborated by either family or official sources. Both police and fire union sources have refused to release any lists of names until the rubble has been cleared and individual bodies have been identified.

A local firefighter called The Wave, however, with the information that at least twenty-five firefighters who live in the cooperatives on the West End of the peninsula – Breezy Point, Roxbury and Rockaway Point — are reported as missing.

Another Rockaway resident who is a firefighter called to says that three of his best friends on the job, all of whom live in Rockaway, are missing

One local synagogue reports that upwards of a dozen of its congregants worked in the World Trade Center and have not been heard from since the attack.

St. Francis De Sales Church, in Rockaway Park, held a memorial service on Tuesday night. At that service, church officials said that 30 of its parishioners have been reported as missing. Parishioners at St. Camillus Church in Rockaway Beach are reporting that a number of its parishioners are missing as well.

Others, many of whom are involved in civic affairs and in the political life of the community are reported missing as well.

Experts point out that there is a chance that those who have been reported as missing are still alive.

There are many in hospitals all over the city and in New Jersey who have not yet been identified.

There have also been reports of numerous cases where a friend or relative had not been able to get to a phone to report that he or she was safe and sound. The Wave heard of one case on Wednesday where the family’s firefighter son did not call all day or night on Tuesday, and the family feared the worst. When he walked in the door on Wednesday afternoon and told them that he was busy and that he had no way to contact them, they rejoiced that he was alive.

Even those who survived the attack, however, have been changed by the last few days.

A local firefighter reported that he went to rescue a woman stuck in the debris. When he pulled her from the rubble, however, he found that her body from the waist down had been cut away.

A local police officer who had spent the day and night just steps away from the collapsing buildings and the rubble that the trade center had become, said only, “I saw things today that I never thought that I would ever see.” He refused to give any details.

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