As the entire New York City area struggled to recover from the worst terrorist attack in American history, volunteers from the Roslyn Fire Companies, as with those from throughout the New York area, were summoned to assist federal, state and city personnel in the massive rescue effort.
Approximately 24 volunteers from the Roslyn Fire Companies responded with a myriad of specialized equipment to help with the search effort in Manhattan. While the tragedy unfolded, firefighters from Roslyn also helped to cover the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
According to fire officials, who have been charged with the onerous task of coordinating relief efforts, volunteer fire departments from around Long Island left their homes, businesses, and families to respond to the disaster.
"We were requested by the Fire Department of New York City to provide fire apparatus and crews to supplement the city system, which was obviously taxed due to this large-scale incident," said Peter Liotta, assistant chief of the Roslyn Rescue Fire Company. "In response, the Roslyn Fire Companies deployed one engine, a heavy rescue, and, later on in the evening, a floodlight unit to assist with the rescue effort."
On the home front, crews remained on standby to cover the Roslyn Fire District. Firefighters, EMTs and paramedics spent the better part of Tuesday, Sept. 11 responding to routine calls for help, and making sure the apparatus was stocked with the magnitude of excess supplies needed to assist in what certainly would be an extensive rescue and recovery mission. According to Roslyn fire officials, many crews remained in the station merely because the firehouse provides a column of support for a brotherhood of men who had colleagues, friends, and families trapped inside the World Trade Towers.
Some crews returned home on midday, Sept. 12, after assisting with the recovery effort.
"We had crews working at the disaster site throughout the night of Sept. 11 to assist with the recovery effort, and were relieved of their duties by mid-morning," said Michael Mulchinski, assistant chief of the Roslyn Highlands Fire Company, who directed Roslyn crews in downtown Manhattan. "We are very proud of those firefighters and EMTs from the fire companies who worked seamlessly alongside New York City emergency workers in the wake of this tragedy."
In the aftermath of the terror attacks, a deep sense of shock and sadness pervaded the communities of Nassau County, including Roslyn, which is home to numerous daily commuters into New York City, some of whom travel to lower Manhattan, where the tragedy occurred. It is not known how many people from the Roslyn area are among the missing.
An estimated 50,000 people worked in New York City's Twin Towers, certainly many of them from Nassau County, and local residents are only beginning to comprehend the magnitude of the casualties.
Village of East Hills personnel closed down their offices on the day of the attacks, but other village halls remained open. No scheduled public meetings were canceled. The Roslyn Public Schools remained open the entire week, with only after school activities canceled.
The coordinated series of terrorist attacks that began at 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11 included two hijacked commercial jetliners crashing into the two World Trade Center towers in New York City, the crash of another hijacked commercial jetliner into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a fourth commercial jetliner that crashed in a Somerset, PA field. The crash in Somerset apparently diverted an attempted attack on the White House. Close to 300 passengers and crewmembers were aboard and killed in the four commercial passenger jet crashes. Casualties at the World Trade Center are reportedly close to 5,000 and casualties at the Pentagon are estimated at up to 190.
A total of 18 hijackers, armed with knives, reportedly disabled airline crew members and operated the jets as missiles in their suicidal mission.
It was revealed that two of the suicide pilots received their flight training in the United States, at a school in Venice, FL. Others had been college students in San Diego. According to the FBI, some of the perpetrators had received either student or tourist visas to gain legal entry into the United States. However, FBI officials admit that several of them overstayed their visa welcomes; thus, they were in the country illegally at the time of the attack. So far, there have been over 1,000 tips to the FBI as investigators search for more perpetrators. Of the 50 suspects in the case, at least 10 remain at large.
According to Senator Charles Schumer (D.--New York), President George W. Bush said New York state would have a "blank check" from Washington in order to help with the restoration of lower Manhattan. The president said he had requested emergency funding from Congress to help recover victims, to help the citizens of New York City and Washington, D.C. respond to the tragedy, and to protect national security. "We are prepared to spend whatever it takes," he said.
Meanwhile, the entire metropolitan area seems to have pulled together in the midst of the tragedy. New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Governor George Pataki and federal officials have expressed resolve in overcoming the attack.
"We're not going to let these cowards scare us," said Mayor Giuliani. "We're going to rebuild. We're not only going to rebuild. We're going to come out of this stronger than we were before."
"We will get through this. America will get through this," Governor Pataki added. "We will not be intimidated. We will not lose our freedom."
Governor Pataki also announced that additional National Guard and State Police would be sent to New York City to assist in the response effort. "All state personnel and resources at our disposal are committed to helping New Yorkers in response to this unspeakable and horrific tragedy," he said. "Thousands of state and Guard personnel and state troopers have been dispatched to New York City. More are on the way. We will continue to work with the White House, the mayor's office, and the appropriate state, local and federal emergency authorities to ensure the most coordinated and effective emergency response possible." US Navy ships are also on guard in New York City's harbors.
Town of North Hempstead officials immediately released their own statements in the wake of the attack. Councilman Angelo Ferrara was trying to set up a Crisis Center either at this headquarters or at Winthrop Hospital. He said that several of his neighbors in New Hyde Park had not heard from their loved ones and needed help from crisis managers or from clergy members.
"What words can you say and what little can we do from here...we urge everyone to donate blood to the American Red Cross," he said. "We feel so helpless and so frustrated and are ready and willing to help in anyway we can."
As with countless other politicians, Councilman Anthony D'Urso used a Pearl Harbor analogy. "These people who have committed this dastardly attack against innocent victims are worse than the perpetrators of the Pearl Harbor attack," he said. "At least then we knew it was a military attack against a nation. This time we don't know who the enemy is. However, I fully agree with the statement by President George Bush that the country will not make any distinction between the terrorists and anyone or any nation that harbors them. I hope that once we identify the source of this tragedy we will act decisively and swiftly. My heart goes out to the many victims and to their families."