The World Trade Center From this side of the river Hearts, Kitchens Open To WTC Workers
The World Trade Center
From this side of the river
Hearts, Kitchens Open
To WTC Workers
Moved by the grief of a dear friend being among the missing in the World Trade Center disaster, an Astoria caterer and her friends and family organized a massive collection drive last week in Astoria, Long Island City and Jackson Heights which brought in five van loads of hot food for those working on the rescue and cleanup effort in lower Manhattan.
When the call went out last week from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki for contributions of food, among those listening was Robin Merendino, proprietor of Tealicious at 23-26 41st St., Astoria.
She and her mother Pat, sisters Kristina and Geniene and friend Nancy Roguly were all saddened by the possible loss of their friend Doris Eng, who had been working on the 106th floor of Tower One when it was hit by a hijacked airplane and collapsed. "She was the type who would help anyone at any time," Merendino recalled. "How could we deny getting involved in any sort of activity that might help Doris as she would have helped others?"
They decided to do a huge food drive, setting out on Wednesday morning to reach as many restaurants, delis and vendors as possible.
Business large and small responded wonderfully, Merendino said. Restaurateurs, caterers and stores large and small spared no expense in cooking pans full of the prime dishes on their menus to send to the forces on the front line.
Merendino said she got a great deal of support and assistance from City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) and his son, Peter Jr., in spreading the word about the project. "Peter Vallone Jr. went so far as to pick up food and personally deliver it to us," Merendino said.
In all, she added, the local restaurant and food service industry contributed enough hot, substantial meals to feed 1,500 people in need. Five vans loaded to their roofs delivered it.
The mountain of food was delivered to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, which with Bellevue Hospital handled most of the serious injury cases resulting from the twin suicide missions.
The businesses which contributed, Merendino said, were: Abba’s Pizza, Amici Amore, Angelo & Sons Bakery, Andres and Frank, Bartolino’s, Buon Appetit, Cardini, Cavo, Costco, C-Town Supermarket, Dragon Gate, Family Corner, Fruitaria, J&T, Jackson Hole, Just Arthur’s, Key Food, King China Buffet, Last Stop, Marco Catering, Mezzo Mezzo,Mike’s Diner, Neptune Diner, N.R. Deli, Opa Opa Tony Souvlaki, Parma Meats, Piccolo Venezia, Pizza Palace, Punta Dura, Rosario’s, Sergio’s Deli and Pizza, Sorriso, Stamatis, Syros, Taverna Kyclades, Top Tomato, Triboro Ice Co., Ubol’s Kitchen, Uncle George’s and Zahner’s.
Merendino thanked Aylza Silva, of Yes Car Service, who lent her personal van, Dominic Pinto from the Ferrari Driving School for hiring a van and two drivers, Francisco Hernandez and Carlos Lopez, Alberto Freitas and Adam Lika for assistance in delivering the food; Ralph Cimitile, Louis Ciccote and Gerard Napolitano of Jay Dee Bakery for donations and picking up and delivering, Rosario and John Panetinto of the Original Rosa’s Pizza in Jackson Heights for donations of food, vehicles and time; and Mike Bello and Mark Antonelli of Metro Auto Body for their help in organizing the effort.
After the five van loads of food were delivered, directors of the rescue and cleanup effort told Tealicious they could not legally continue their effort because they were not a charitable organization or foundation. But, Merendino said, donations of all kinds can be delivered to Stadium Operations, Gate C at Shea Stadium in Flushing, (718) 507-6387.
Paying tribute to everyone who contributed to the food collection drive, Merendino said, "They serve as a brilliant example of how, working together, each person expending just a little effort and time can accomplish so much more than we originally thought possible."
Gets Firsthand View
Of WTC Disaster
Charles Sciberras emerged from the Brooklyn Bridge subway station in lower Manhattan last Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. with his thoughts on a court case in which he was scheduled to testify.
But when the 51-year-old Astoria real estate associate at ReMax Today Realty at 32-75 Steinway St. in Long Island City reached the top of the stairs he was met by screaming and yelling and noises that sounded like gun shots.
"Then, looking up," he recalled last Friday, "I saw a huge hole in one of the World Trade Center buildings and dark smoke, heavy dark smoke, coming out of it.
"Moments later, I saw a plane hit the other tower and a ball of fire almost covered the building."
Hardly pausing, Sciberras continued, "My first instinct was to run away and that’s what I did when the second explosion happened."
A short while later, "just to try to find out what the heck was going on," he called Vickie Lallave, head of classified advertising at the Gazette, with whom he deals frequently.
"She could hear all the noise and commotion over my cell phone," he said, "and she told me about the planes striking the towers."
Sciberras, like hundreds of others forced to walk because all transportation had come to a halt, made his way uptown to the Queens Borough Bridge at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue. He was back at his office by 2 p.m. "It took me three and a half hours and I was simply exhausted," he recalled. "I turned on the tv and I couldn’t believe that I had been there. It was like a Godzilla movie or ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’. It was like a battle and we were defeated."
Sciberras, who’s been in the real estate business for 30 years, said he’s having sleepless nights and nightmares since the deadly disaster and is still in a state of shock over it.
He said he was going to court to testify in a case related to his job at ReMax.
The World Trade Center tragedy made such an impact on him, he said, that he plans in the next several weeks to start a fund for the children of the deceased in the crash and building collapses.
Steinway BID, Gazette
At the height of the World Trade Center cleanup operation last Friday, the Steinway Business Improvement District (BID) and the Western Queens Gazette actively sought contributions of clothing, bandages, toothpaste, work gloves and countless other items for the workers at the recovery site.
Tony Barsamian, publisher of the Gazette, and Sam Pirozzolo, chairman of the BID, headed a joint effort distributing thousands of flyers along Steinway Street and some surrounding streets announcing the collection effort, along with a list of the items sought.
Pirozzolo, of J.V. Optical, 30-11 Steinway St., Long Island City, said the flyers went out to merchants and their customers and shoppers on the street.
The items asked for were towels, dog food and bowls, can openers, coolers, bottled water, sports drinks, work gloves, headbands, cell phone batteries and chargers, sweat shirts, respirator masks, flashlights, tooth brushes and toothpaste, D batteries, rain slickers, aspirin, Ace bandages, allergy medication, saline solution, bandages, tube socks, long-sleeve shirts, underwear and steel-toe boots.
Sea Of Flags On Steinway
Steinway Street became a sea of American flags last Thursday after Goldstein and Foley, one of the major property owners on the street, distributed flags to all its tenants as a show of unity following the World Trade Center attack.
The flags were distributed by Kevin Foley, the firm’s managing director, and Patricia Hayes, property manager. The firm is located at 28-23 Steinway St., Long Island City.
"Steinway Street and all of Astoria are part of a wonderful, multi-ethnic, all-American community," Foley stated. "We want to show that we are united with the rest of our fellow New Yorkers in expressing our support to all those affected by this travesty and to further show that we are united with the rest of our nation.
"These terrible acts have really brought us together. You can just feel it on the street. Today Steinway Street is decorated with the Stars and Stripes as a symbol of that unity."
New Terrorism Law Could Bring Death Penalty
A package of new anti-terrorism bills submitted by Governor George Pataki after the World Trade Center was destroyed, in some cases calling for the death penalty, was passed by the state legislature and signed into law on Monday.
The governor said, "We’re sending a very clear message to terrorists that New Yorkers have every intention of of fighting back."
Commenting on the new, tough laws, state Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) stated: "It is important that we strike while the iron is hot to overhaul our state laws to better punish those who would commit terrorist acts against our citizens."
Maltese said the measures "will combat every aspect of terrorism, whether its committing terrorism or hindering the prosecution of terrorists."
They will also allow New York State to join with other states in a mutual partnership to provide aid and assistance in times of emergency, Maltese said.
The statutes would allow state prosecutors to ask for the death penalty for someone who commits murder during a terrorist act. In other cases, some terrorist crimes could get a convicted perpetrator life in prison without parole.
A person would be guilty of terrorism when he or she commits a specified offense with intent to accomplish: intimidation or coercion of a civilian population or influencing the policy of a unit of government or affecting the conduct of a government unit.
A specified offense, Maltese said, is any Class A felony (other than a drug offense), any violent felony offense, manslaughter in the second degree, criminal tampering in the first degree or an attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the specified offenses.
Destroyed At WTC
In the best tradition, the Forest hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps (VAC) responded to a call for assistance at the World Trade Center disaster almost as soon as the catastrophe occurred last Tuesday morning.
But almost as soon as it arrived at the ambulance staging area on West Street at Ground Zero, "our ambulance and much of our life-saving equipment was believed destroyed" when Tower 1 crumbled, according to Bryce L. Friedman, FHVAC vice president.
"Fortunately, after many harrowing hours, we were able to account for all of our volunteers, who escaped without serious injury," Friedman stated.
"Our ambulance was not as lucky," he added ruefully.
For the first time since 1972, the FHVAC is temporarily out of service, Friedman reported.
But, he said, "Despite our significant loss, about two dozen volunteers and all the Forest Hill VAC medical equipment were deployed to triage and treatment areas in lower Manhattan.
"As I write, our volunteers are still working with the incident’s medical officer."
Friedman, in a letter to supporters, neighbors and elected officials, said that for the moment, "We are working with FDNY and neighboring volunteer ambulance services to ensure continuity of EMS service in Forest Hills and Rego Park."
He added, "As we grieve and rebuild together over the next few months, we will look to you for help and support. We look forward to re-stocking our equipment and re-establishing our critical service as soon as possible. I hope that you will be there to help us."
Friedman estimated the cost of a new ambulance at about $75,000. He said that was what the vehicle lost at the WTC collapse cost new in 1998.
Friedman also issued a list of equipment totaling about $43,000 which included, among many items, two cardiac defibrilators at $6,500 each the most costly items listed a stretcher, diagnostic equipment, communications system and oxygen tanks.
First on board with an offer of assistance was the Forest Hills Action League, headed by Norbert and Estelle Chwat.
Norbert Chwat said in a release that his organization and its membership will be working in cooperation with the FHVAC to help replace the ambulance and the VAC equipment that was lost at the Twin Tower disaster.
Contributions may be mailed to Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, P.O. Box 750617, Forest Hills, N.Y. 11375. Telephone at (718) 793-2055 or for emergencies (718) 793-7747. Friedman can also be reached directly at (646) 373-5353. The unit’s station is located at 92-28 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills.