BY STEPHEN McGUIRE
As New York City woke up Tuesday morning to learn that a local woman was the latest casualty of anthrax, area hospital officials were disseminating information to alert health care workers on how to spot the signs of a bio-chemical terrorist attack.
Cover of the brochure that has been mailed out to local physicians and healthcare workers.
The Oct. 31 death of an employee of the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital had investigators puzzled as they scrambled to figure out how the Bronx woman with no connection to the government or media became infected with the disease.
“The source of the anthrax exposure remains unknown,” said Health Department officials in a statement released after it was confirmed that the 61-year old hospital supply room worker was infected with the inhalation form of anthrax.
According to Health Dept. officials, the results of 10 environmental samples taken from portions of the hospital have preliminarily tested negative, leading investigators to look into other ways the woman could have contracted the disease.
At a press conference on Oct. 30, Mayor Rudy Giuliani called on police and the FBI to retrace the woman’s steps in an effort to determine how she acquired the disease.
In the days prior to the latest anthrax death, local medical officials were disseminating information to doctors about the warning signs of potential bio-chemical attacks.
“With the threat of biological and chemical terrorism on all of our minds, the Medisys health network has put together informational brochures for the members of our community as well as community-based physicians,” wrote Ole Pedersen, a spokesperson for Jamaica Hospital as part of a recent mailing that is going out to local doctors and media members.
Medisys is the name of the metro-area health network of which both Jamaica Hospital and Flushing Hospital are members.
According to the informational packet, the health care group has assembled “a task force of experts . . . that include leaders in emergency medicine, infectious disease, disaster preparedness, security and safety . . . and infection control.”
“One of the objectives of this task force is to educate our community,” Pederson said.
Included in the mailing is a brochure geared toward physicians and titled “Facts To Know About Bio-terrorism.”
It features answers to questions about antibiotics, anthrax, smallpox, vaccines and places to get more information on potential attacks.
To learn more about bio-terroism, log on to the NYC Dept. of Health’s website at www.nyc.gov/health, the literature advised.
Students Salute New York’s Heroes
Staff at PS 148 in East Elmhurst reported to school at 6 a.m. on Halloween to inflate over 1,200 red, white and blue balloons in preparation for a special “Salute to Our Heroes.”
The tribute/Halloween parade began near 89th and 90th Streets and Northern Blvd., where balloons, attached with notes from students dedicated to the city’s bravest and finest, were released into the autumn sky.
Honored in the parade were officers from the 115th Precinct, and firefighters from Ladder Company 154, and Engine 307. “In recognition to those who serve our city,” Principal Salvatore Romano who was honorary sheriff for the day, presented the heroes with a basket of fruit for their efforts on September 11, and their past and present work.
— Michelle Sellers
U.S. Postal officials told the Tribune this week that two sets of preliminary tests performed at post offices in Astoria and Long Island City over the past three weeks have come back with negative results.
But inspectors are preparing for a third round of tests to determine if a powdery substance discovered at the locations is trained with Anthrax, said spokesperson Thomas Hart.
The powder was found by employees at the Astoria station at 27th Avenue and 21st Street and at the Broadway station at 21st Street and Broadway.
Hart said the results of further testing would determine if the sites would be shut down for complete disinfecting.
Queens In The Wake Of The Towers: Chamber Of Commerce Answers The Calls
BY NICK ABADJIAN
The aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center saw thousands of calls placed to New York City from citizens wanting to find out how they could help and those whose calls were forwarded to Queens, found the right place.
According to directors of the Queens Chamber of Commerce it was a combination of unknowing phone operators unfamiliar with the Big Apple and luck that found callers from across the country calling the local business group to find out how they could help.
“We tried to find the right locations,” said Lucy Nunziato, executive vice president, for the Chamber of Commerce.
Nunziato said the local business group was being asked by people in towns like LaPorte, Indiana what supplies people should donate and where they should send them.
The Chamber directed those wishing to donate to send items first to Manhattan’s Javits’ Center and then later to Shea Stadium in Flushing.
But when those locations were quickly filled up and the Mets returned home to play ball Chamber representatives began directing supplies to the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) Armory in Westbury, Long Island.
But Nunziato said getting to the SEMO Armory is not an easy task for an out-of-towner, especially for trucks, unfamiliar with the roads.
Nunziato, who lives in Middle Village said she knows Westbury, said she couldn’t find the armory right away.
“These people went through the trouble of getting to us,” said Nunziato.
So Nunziato and Chamber volunteer Joan Ganly, set up a meeting place with the donors on the Jericho Turnpike and escorted them by car to the armory.
And along the way, Nunziato met some pretty giving people, she said.
The first out-of-town shipment the Chamber helped to arrange came at 6 a.m. on Sept. 21.
It was a tractor-trailer with supplies and food from the City of Fulton Chamber of Commerce, which is located near Syracuse, NY.
The next day came Kelly Vicari and Leslie Pazdue, two sisters from Valparaiso, Indiana, along with friends and four rental trucks adorned with huge American Flags reading, “Operation Manhattan.”
The trucks were so packed that it took them 24 hours to arrive.
In the Pennsylvania hills they achieved a speed of only 30 MPH.
The trucks contained blankets, sweatshirts, t-shirts, socks, buckets, dog food and leather booties for the canine unit.
There were also encouraging letters from students, kindergartners to fifth graders, addressed to emergency personnel. “You can’t go through three or four of them without getting tears to your eyes,” said Nunziato. She took some of the letters and distributed them to a dozen firehouses.
Paige Larby of the Larby Industrial Sewing Company in Schererville, Indiana brought leather booties for the rescue dogs that her staff made.
Queens Survivor Recounts His Take On Terror
BY LIZ GOFF
It was a usual morning. Rush hour crowds packed into the “F” train at Roosevelt Avenue on Sept. 11 – and the sun, shining against the “bluest” sky, made Tommy Castaldi of Woodside wish he had called in sick to his New York State job on the 88th floor of Tower Two at the World Trade Center.
Once there, he “plunked his stuff” on the desk, sat down and took a sip of his coffee as he thumbed through some “to-do” paperwork on the desk. It was an “ordinary, humdrum day,” Castaldi said. But not for long.
That’s when Castaldi and his fellow employees felt it. An earthquake or explosion. Then someone, looking out at Tower One, realized that something horrible had happened to the building. The group gathered at the window couldn’t see where the Boeing 767 had crashed into Tower One, or the flames that were just starting to pour out of the building, Castaldi said.
The group, suddenly alone, conferred. They decided, when Tower Two seemed to “sway,” that it was time to leave, he said.
Walking toward the staircase (no elevator for this Feb. 26, 1993 WTC veteran), Castaldi caught something in the corner of his eye. People in Tower One were “hanging” out windows. They appeared to be watching something, or calling for help, he said. That’s when he stopped to watch, and in a “second” he saw the people – crying, waving handkerchiefs. Then he saw something he doesn’t want to remember. People with flames at their backs were jumping from the upper floors of Tower One, past his window.
In the outside hallway, building security guards were taking charge of people who were fleeing the building, Castaldi said. Someone said Tower One was “swaying” and that the man confirmed it – a commercial aircraft had intentionally flown into the tower.
People were moving along on the staircase. One man urged the crowd to move faster – but how? There was no room for speed. Castaldi said he had been on the stairway for about 10 minutes when the first announcement sounded. A man’s voice said, “An aircraft has hit Tower One. Tower Two is okay.” In the same message people were told that they could use the local elevators at the 44th floor to reach the lobby, Castaldi said.
When the group reached “about” the sixth or seventh floor, they felt another boom and felt the building shake again, Castaldi said. People were falling and black smoke filled the air. “The firefighters told us to go back up. They led us there,” he said. “They led us, through complete darkness, to another stairway. They started us on our way down, then climbed up toward the fire.
“Police and firefighters were coming in to the building when we reached the lobby,” Castaldi said. “The building was swaying, burning and shaking. But they went up, not back to the street.
“They were on the stairway when the building collapsed. Going up,” Castaldi said. “They must all be dead now.”
Outside, people were stooped over. “I found myself slumped over a car that was quickly being covered with dust,” he said. “I picked myself up and ran.”
All of a sudden, the sky turned black, and chunks of concrete were falling from the dust-filled sky, Castaldi said. “The blue was gone.”
Since then, Castaldi has taken time off from work several times each week, to attend memorials for firefighters and police officers. He said he feels it’s something he has to do, because any of those men might be those who led his group to the stairway to the street.
A New Breed Of World Trade Center Victims
BY ANGELA MONTEFINISE
Humans weren’t the only ones affected by the World Trade Center attack, dogs and cats who lived in lower Manhattan or whose owners were lost in the Sept. 11 tragedy have also suffered, and the Noah’s Ark Project, an organization dedicated to relocating homeless animals across the City, is trying to help in Queens.
Noah’s Ark recently opened a new “no-kill” center in Bellerose on Oct. 5 to find families for homeless animals, including the approximately 20 animals victimized in some capacity by the World Trade Center collapse almost two months ago.
The center received the displaced animals on Oct. 26 from the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC), which has been collecting dogs and cats found by police and firefighters near Ground Zero or in the apartments of victims since the tragedy.
The CACC holds the animals for one month, waiting for them to be claimed. If the animals remain unclaimed, they are sent to several places in the City to be adopted, including the Noah’s Ark Project Center in Bellerose.
Jo-An Morris, a volunteer at the new center, said, “We are looking for extreme animal lovers to adopt the World Trade Center animals. These pets are shaken up, confused and disorientated . . . The Noah’s Ark Project always tries to find top owners for its animals, but volunteers are working especially hard to help these poor little guys.”
The Noah’s Ark Project was founded in January 2000 by Executive Director Maria Barnett, a Queens law student.
To keep the center running efficiently, Morris said volunteers and donations are needed desparately.
To volunteer or make a contribution of money or food to the center, call (347) 572-0081 or 347-7348. Volunteer applications and information are also available on the group’s website at www.arkproject.com.
The Bellerose center is located at 251-61 Jamaica Avenue.
Queens In The Wake Of The Towers
Memorial services were held in Queens to remember the following fallen heroes:
More than 1,000 firefighters and police officers lined the street outside St. Thomas More Church in Breezy Point on Friday, Oct. 26, to mourn Firefighter Michael Roberts.
The mass, originally planned as a memorial, was changed to a funeral when Roberts’ body was found on Friday, Oct. 19.
Roberts, 31, was the godson of Chief Joseph Fox, former commander of Patrol Borough Queens South.
Fox eulogized Roberts, recalling a time when he transferred from one firehouse to a “much busier” house.
Fox remembered Roberts’ grandmother asking him why he would do such a thing. Michael answered, “You ever see firemen when they go to work? They’re always smiling, they’re happy,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’m happy.”
Fires continue to burn at Ground Zero, 51 days after terror struck the Twin Towers. And in Queens, candles still burn outside firehouses as families mourn victims of the disaster.
New York’s Bravest marked a tragic milestone on Oct. 12, with a memorial mass for Firefighter Michael Brennan – the 150th service for firefighters lost at the World Trade Center.
Brennan, 27, was eulogized with a mass at St. Raphael’s Church in Long Island City, in the neighborhood where he grew up.
Brennan loved to play fantasy football, Schwartz recalled. “He named his team ‘Ground Zero’.”
Family and friends remembered retired FDNY Captain James Corrigan at a memorial service at St. Anastasia R.C. Church in Douglaston.
Corrigan, who headed the fire detail at the World Trade Center, organized a little-publicized rescue on Sept. 11 that saved the lives of several hundred children who were trapped inside the Towers’ Day Care Center.
Once all of the children had been evacuated, the men went into the buildings to “critical parts,” where they guided people down the stairs, preventing panic or a possible stampede.
Five members of Corrigan’s team are still unaccounted for, officials said.