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The Longest Week

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Wednesday

"My boyfriend and I got here around 4:30 in the morning," says Rebecca O'Brien, a consultant for McKinsey & Co. volunteering outside the New York Blood Center at 310 East 67th Street. "No one was here, so we went and got breakfast. We got back around six -- there were people on line. I've just been answering questions. I must have spoken to 800 people. One woman told me, 'I've just been activated. I have to give blood now.' I didn't understand what she meant -- activated? Then she explained: She'd just been activated in the military. I almost started to cry."

Young men and women in berets, mobilized National Guard, are fanning out from the Armory at 66th and Lex after a long night. They descend on Eat Here Now, a local coffee shop, looking for breakfast. A cheery, busy man with a thick Middle Eastern accent brusquely explains that there's "no toast, only rolls." Why? "Soldier food, army food. War is here. Don't complain."

Dan Roorda was unable to get back to Manhattan from New Jersey until Wednesday morning. His girlfriend, Heather Ho, the pastry chef at Windows on the World, still hadn't been heard from. "I asked a cop on 14th Street where I should go to report a missing person," he says. "I was frantic." Ho's friend Deb Schneider had already called in, started a file, and gotten a log number. After Roorda visited hospitals, he ended up at a police station near Gramercy Park. "They told me to go to the head of the line because I already had a file. One guy was shouting, 'I can't take this anymore,' and he got into a fight. When the guy's wife tried to break it up, he hit her. After a while, someone called out, 'Does anyone have a locator number?' I said, 'I do.' I was the only one. The interviewer took notes on paper. I don't know how they're going to build a database."

Angela Reilly Danz refers in the present tense to her husband, who was one of the first cops to arrive at the World Trade Center. She has been waiting at One Police Plaza with the families of other missing cops. Vincent Danz, 38 years old, the last of nine children, was stationed in the Bronx, on Emergency Services Unit truck three. "He was supposed to work a four-to-twelve," Angela says, "but changed his tour to Tuesday morning because he had a class -- he's studying to become an operating engineer." Waiting with relatives at home on Long Island, with the TV off, are three daughters, including 8-year-old Winifred, named after her father's murdered sister, and 6-month-old Abigail. When she left home, Angela told the girls that she was going to visit Daddy, who was working in Manhattan. As she says this, tears crest in her eyes. She is still wearing the sneakers and sweat pants she put on to go out for a walk yesterday morning in Farmingdale. "While I was gone, Vincent called at ten of ten and left a message," she says. "I don't know which building he was in, but he was in the World Trade Center. Vincent said, 'I love you, I love the girls. Pray for the people inside the building. And pray for me.' "

Several hundred New Yorkers stand on the West Side Highway in the evening, cheering as cops, firefighters, and rescue workers head north. The workers stare straight ahead.

At 4:15 p.m., Dr. Joseph English, chair of psychiatry at St. Vincents, emerges from the New School, where workers have lists of names from hospitals. If a list confirms a death, the family is taken to meet with English's staff. "I talked to someone whose neighbor didn't go into work Tuesday," says English. "Had a meeting or a luncheon. His office was where the first plane hit, and he lost his whole group of colleagues. His personal family is intact. But he has lost the family of his work."

Two guys in hospital scrubs who've just returned from ground zero are sitting on Sullivan Street, near Spring. "It's really dangerous," says Mike Florman, a spiky-haired resident at the NYU College of Dentistry. "The only thing the medical people can do is minister to the people digging. The thing is a tomb. I only saw one body brought out, but there were parts. A guy said, 'Here's a lady's face. What do you want me to do with it?' They put it in a bag and took it to the morgue."

Amie Parnes, 24, had just exited an N train pulling into 34th Street around 9:30 p.m., as talk of a bomb at the Empire State Building spread. "I ran as fast as I could for ten blocks," she says, "and all I heard were marshals screaming Go-go-go! A woman was running with her toddler, and a marshal grabbed the kid, then disappeared. It was such chaos that no one could see, and for a while all I could hear was this woman screaming, Where's my baby?"

At the corner of Broadway and Chambers, at 9:45 p.m., Officer John Crowley of the Bronx is directing traffic -- ambulances, construction machinery, National Guard jeeps. "You want some good news?" Crowley says. "José Coldon of Morgan Stanley called on his cell phone from under the World Trade Center. He says, 'Tell 911 I'm in the concourse.' " Crowley has been skeptical that anyone survived the collapse but he's clinging to this call like a lifeboat. "I was in the Gulf War," he says. "This is much more awful. I was down at the hole -- there's fingers, hands . . ." His radio crackles with news about the Empire State Building: That's a positive on the bomb. Forty-fourth floor. The dog has given a positive. Crowley shakes his head. "Those dogs have been working all day," he says. "They get tired, too." The radio squawks again: "The call from Morgan Stanley -- that came in from 750 Seventh Avenue." Which means José, or whoever it was, was calling from midtown. "No!" Crowley yells. "No! That call is real! That's a good call!"

By 11 p.m., flowers are heaped at the firehouse door on Lafayette Street. Candles. Thank-you notes. A nonstop stream of people with clothes and cannoli. Firefighter Adrienne Walsh, 34, thanks everyone. She had Tuesday morning off. She was on the BQE, driving to a class, when paper from 1 World Trade Center started swirling down. "My first thought was, somebody was having some kinda weird birthday party," she says. Then the second plane hit. Walsh drove home to Fort Greene and parked, then ran to the Brooklyn Bridge, waving her badge and jumping on an engine for a ride. Soon she was in uniform on Cortlandt Street with a ball of dust coming at her. "Two blocks from the collapse," she says, "our rig was crushed. I ran as fast as I ever have. I didn't know what direction. Suddenly there was a light, and a super holding a door open. We went for it and dove in, and he closed the door. I don't know who he was, what building. He saved us." Then Walsh and the rest of Ladder Company 20 went back out. Now she's standing in the firehouse, staring into darkness. Fourteen of her colleagues are missing.

Thursday

An older man stands in front of Engine 5's firehouse way down on Beekman, a few blocks east of the collapsed towers. Captain Timothy Dowling once commanded this outfit. Now, retired, he's keeping busy as he looks for word of his nephew Thomas Houlihan. He aims a firehose at a van caked with dust and says he thinks people will still be found in the basement. He was down there in 1993, during the bombing of the Trade Center. "The whole company is over there right now, digging."

Around 11:30 a.m., rumors spread that there's a bomb in the Condé Nast building in Times Square. People mill about outside, but no one seems particularly scared. Anna Wintour walks east on 43rd Street with André Leon Talley, chatting on her cell phone. "Nothing happened," she says. "It was a bomb scare." When a passerby asks if they're leaving because of the threat, Wintour looks at her as if she's crazy. "No, we're going for lunch."

On East 11th Street, between University Place and Broadway, Bill Clinton is walking down the street with Chelsea, his eyes red. "We love you, Bill!" one person calls out. "We need you now!" yells another. Patricia Grodd, an intern at a psychoanalytic institute, reaches out. Clinton pulls her out of the crowd by her hand. "Are we gonna get them?" she asks. "You have to understand," he answers. "We don't play by their rules." He tells the crowd that any response demands patience, that finding the enemy takes time. His eyes are getting redder and wetter. Then he and Chelsea continue east.

"One person is missing," says Donna Brown, a concierge at 215 West 95th Street. "People are coming by, asking, but there is nothing we can do. There are probably doormen and concierges all over the city who have people missing. Maybe this person in our building is fine."

Father Mychal Judge is home. The Fire Department chaplain is back at the Franciscan provincial headquarters on West 31st Street, across the street from the flower-draped fire station for Ladder 24 and Engine 1. His body lies before the altar in St. Francis of Assisi Church, a firefighter watch of honor changing every ten minutes. There is no service, just family, friends, Franciscan friars in brown robes and sandals, cops, EMS workers, doctors and nurses from St. Vincents, and firefighters from the 175 stations in his parish. Some have come directly from their shifts, in full, dirty uniform, and talk is of whom they've seen, who's missing. There is none of the laughter and remembrance you usually hear at an Irish wake, only names and numbers: two tour commanders, twenty battalion chiefs, all five fire-rescue companies, all lost. Father Mychal, 68, had been everywhere on Tuesday. Father Christopher Keenan says that shortly after meeting with Mayor Giuliani and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, Father Mychal knelt and removed his helmet to give last rites to a firefighter who had been hit by a falling body. In that moment, as he helped to ease another spirit out of this world, Father Mychal was struck by falling debris and killed instantly. "He always had the words to take the burden off our shoulders," says retired fire captain John Timulty. "Now we have to do this for each other."


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