Staten Islanders Cope With Loss Of More Than 70 Firefighters
Staten Island has been hit hard by the World Trade Center attack: it's home to more than 70 firefighters who are still missing. NY1's Roger Clark visited one neighborhood and filed the following report.
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The West Brighton section of Staten Island is home to many city firefighters, and the effects of last week's disaster can be seen in the faces of residents in this community of tree-lined streets and bustling shops.
"It's a terrible mood," says West Brighton resident Doug Peterson. "Nobody knows what is going on or what the next step is going to be. A lot of firefighters who are missing or hurt or killed are from the neighborhood, so everybody's just down."
Neighbor Denny Pizzuto adds, "My neighbor is a firefighter, and I talked to him and he's just in horror. I mean, he's just going to work every day trying to help out, trying to do what he can, and we're all here for him and we're all here for everybody else, and we do what we can do."
This has been an especially difficult time for children. Many have lost loved ones, and schools have been trying to get students back into their everyday routines while at the same time being sensitive to their needs.
"The questions are there, and we have a guidance counselor on staff for anyone who needs to discuss it further," says Jeannine Roland, the principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel/St. Benidictus School. "We found out this morning about one family that is missing a family member, so we're helping the child. It's a young child, so the little ones don't know as much as the older ones, but they are also the ones with the most questions."
During this difficult time, many residents of this tight-knit community have turned to their faith for comfort and support. They are also in search of answers to many difficult questions.
According to Father Thomas Cerulo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel/St. Benedictus Church, "Anyone that you see here in Staten Island, I know in West Brighton in my contact, almost immediately out of their mouth is not only what occurred on September 11, but also the after effect of it. They are very much devastated by it and kind of helpless and paralyzed. They ask, 'What do we do?' and 'Why did this happen to us?'"
Father Cerulo says the message he tries to get across is that life must continue to go on: "I think in testimony for those who have lost their lives so that their life and our lives are not in vain, we have an obligation to move on. There is life now and a life ahead, and if we in any way cease in that effort, then all that we've been trying to do has been worthless."
- Roger Clark