As the world tries to come to grips with their overwhelming loss and make sense out of what's considered "the worst terrorist attack on the US in the history of the world," Floral Park Mayor Ann Corbett and village trustees offer their deepest condolences to victims' families and thank the numerous volunteers tirelessly working down at the site.
During the Sept. 18 village board meeting, trustee Phil Guarnieri acknowledged the bravery and fortitude of Floral Park firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel, many of whom lost their lives in the line of duty. "Our thanks is not nearly enough. It will never be enough. There are debts in life that cannot be requited - we offer in return only what we can - our prayers and our hearts that overflow with gratitude.
The village will honor victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack by placing memorial bricks in the pathways of Heritage Park. Names of lost loved ones will forever be engraved in bricks that will soon welcome residents into a park that will offer solace during such difficult and strange times. Credit: Carisa Keane
"The vast sea of red, white and blue displayed on every block and street corner of this village is a testament that bereaved as we are this great village, in union with our great country, has resolved that our fellow citizens shall not have died in vain ... that the blackness of terror and murder shall not enshroud the cause for freedom and humanity ... that the inextinguishable torch of American liberty, even amid the darkness, continues to light the world."
Trustee Gerry Bambrick echoed Guarnieri's sentiments, thanking the vast efforts of local firefighters and police officers who have selflessly offered their help at Ground Zero. He thanked those who gave their lives, saying that while most people would generally run away from danger, these people ran into danger to help others.
Mayor Corbett said Floral Park, like many other communities, is trying to make sense of the horrific events that unfolded Sept. 11. At this time, there are several residents reported missing, she said. Out of respect for the victims, the families and the efforts of our fire, rescue, police and other volunteers, the village board canceled Spirit Weekend originally planned for last weekend. The presentation of the annual Spirit Awards and the Dean Karahalis concert has been rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 19.
"It will be a program of 'Remembrance, Patriotism and Community Spirit' and will be held as a tribute to the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11 attack," Mayor Corbett said. "This year's Spirit Awards are being presented to Andre and Francine Anders, John and Rosemarie Gridley, Robert and Barbara Hoffman, Edward and Marge Keaney, Reverend Albert Martin and Nancy Kraft. Unfortunately, Nancy Kraft will be unable to attend. Nancy is an auxiliary policewoman and Red Cross volunteer who has been working in many difficult areas during the past week." Further information about the time and locations of postponed events will be made available soon.
"This terrorist assault brought out the best in us and will continue to do so in the uncertain days and years ahead. I am very proud of our volunteers, firefighters, rescue and police personnel who have been assisting with the search and recovery efforts at the site," Mayor Corbett said. "In response to the emergency, a pumper truck, a light truck, a van and rescue vehicles have been utilized in Queens and Manhattan. Ordinary citizens have helped in a myriad of ways from collecting clothing, donating blood, organizing candlelight vigils and comforting others."
The mayor also thanked local pastors and religious leaders for their help during the past weeks and extended her thanks to everyone in Floral Park for demonstrating spirit and character in the face of uncertainty and confusion. In an effort to memorialize residents who tragically died, the village will honor them by placing memorial bricks in the pathways of Heritage Park. Their names will forever be engraved in bricks that will welcome residents into a park that will offer solace during such difficult and strange times.
The Village of Floral Park, through the efforts of village administrator Virginia Appel and the fire chief's office anticipating a tremendous need, decided to activate the old ambulance, trustee Tom Tweedy, also Floral Park Fire Commissioner, said. It was stocked with necessary medical supplies and readied for duty. The heavy-duty rescue truck was on call and the light truck was also called into duty. Personnel were assigned. "The coordination of all these matters was handled by Emergency Operations and Incident Officer Joe O'Grady and he performed the duties flawlessly," Tweedy said.
"The myriad of organization duties of coordination, communication and personnel with the many city agencies and with our trucks and personnel all over the city, monitoring our equipment deployed throughout the city was an amazing task. Joe handled it calmly. He worked tirelessly for hours not heading for his own bed until 36 hours later."
The heavy-duty rescue truck was sent on the evening of Sept. 11 to Shea Stadium. The old rescue truck was sent into the city and later to the crash site. Members of Rescue Company were aboard this equipment and were assigned to Pier 36, later to Ground Zero and again to Pier 36. That rescue detail put in 18 hours in one shift. The light truck was used on Sept. 11-12, Tweedy added.
"Most important was the assignment of alert pump truck to Engine 304 in Queens Village. The city was deploying its own equipment forward and the Floral Park Fire Department filled in at the houses to provide fire protection in those areas," he told residents in attendance. "The pumper served four 8-hour shifts. Each shift had 10 members and of the 40 members that would be required for those shifts, there were no duplicates. All members responded to the call. The members served our neighbors to the west expeditiously and professionally."
Tweedy said there are no words that can accurately convey what he witnessed those nights at fire headquarters - the loss of life, the uncertainty of the mission, the vigilance to duty to serve in the face of incomprehensible tragedy. He publicly acknowledged the tireless efforts of Chief Charles Rassiga and the entire chief's staff, Robert Kloepfer, William Watts, Peter Bilardello and Raymond Neufeld, who led a contingent of volunteers to Ground Zero for a 10-hour shift. The utility vehicle entered Ground Zero on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, bringing much needed dry clothing, socks, food and water.
Tweedy said the department still has much to sort out in the coming days, weeks and months but he is proud and confident about the readiness, professionalism and compassion of the Floral Park Fire Department.