America's bloodiest day
Families search for missing loved ones
|||List of the victims|
By Elizabeth LeSure
NEW YORK The names of the missing have become tearful mantras, repeated to volunteers, over hot lines, on television. The fliers and signs bear messages from panicked families:
"We're looking for..."
Three days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the families of the thousands of missing people have not slept. Many have not eaten. All they want is some news. Any news.
"We're not giving up hope and we're going to continue, because he's a strong person," said Jeanine Nardone, whose brother, 32-year-old Mario Nardone, is among the nearly 5,000 people reported missing.
Mario was at work as a bond broker on the 84th floor of the second tower that was hit Tuesday. His family hasn't heard from him since his brother-in-law spoke to him on the phone after the first plane hit.
"He would never give up on us, and I'm not going to give up on him," his sister said. "We will not stop until we find him."
More than 2,500 people have gone to the armory at 26th Street and Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan to fill out detailed missing-persons reports.
Officials want every identifying detail: shoe size, belt size, blood type, tattoos, mother's maiden name. For most of the day yesterday, the line wrapped around the building an entire block.
Families photocopied thousands of fliers printed with the names, photographs and last known locations of sons, daughters, aunts and brothers. They passed them out with trembling hands and taped them to trees, fences and telephone booths.
Rob Fazio, 27, was looking for his father, 57-year-old Ronald Fazio.
"We have Reese's peanut butter cups for you," read the son's flier, which also carried a photo.
Ronald Fazio made one phone call in which he told his family he was fine during the 18-minute interval between the plane crashes at the skyscrapers.
The last time Sharon Cole saw her boyfriend, Keithroy Maynard, 30, the couple had voted together in the local primary election early Tuesday morning. Maynard, a firefighter, was then called to the disaster.
"I have to know whether he's alive or dead," she said. "I just have to."
Trudy Calandrillo, 48, came to the armory to file a report on her 49-year-old brother, Joseph Calandrillo. Their mother was at home in the family's Brooklyn neighborhood, where she said friends and neighbors were reaching out to them.
"My brother's a good boy, and I know there are thousands of other good boys up there," Trudy Calandrillo said.
Paul Landstrom said his family still hoped that his mother-in-law, 34-year-old Barbara Walsh, had left her office at the World Trade Center before the attacks. But as the hours mounted, the reality of the situation grew painful.
"We just want some kind of answer," he said.
The Greater New York Hospital Association set up a Web site that allowed families to search the names of people treated at area hospitals. Officials at the armory said they would continue to file reports for families as long as they kept coming.
Former President Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, visited the crowds at the armory to offer comfort. Families who spent an anguished day there drifted nearer to hear him speak, and many showed him pictures of missing loved ones.
"We need not to show fear and not to give in," Bill Clinton said. "We need to prove them wrong by how we respond to this."
Caroline Burbank, 29, tried to keep her mind from wandering disturbing paths. On Tuesday, her fiance, Geoff Campbell, had left early for a conference both planned to attend at the Trade Center. Campbell has not come home.
"You picture what the scenarios could have been. And that's the worst. If he was scared or if he was alone when the building went down," she said, breaking into sobs.
They had not set a wedding date. "We were just going to go to the Caribbean and do it ourselves," she said.
"When he gets out, that's the first thing we'll do."