CHRONICLES OF 9/11
Grisly Assignment: Fresh Kills Landfill
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Toya Lane Bowden, then a detective with the NYPD Internal Affairs, now living in Oneonta, was headed to the World Trade Center to drop off her department-issued beeper for repairs.
By first, she stopped by the stationery store in Long Island City to buy ribbon for a friend’s retirement party.
“I heard on the store radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center,” she said. “I went home, grabbed my bag of equipment and drove into the city. As I was coming over the bridge, I saw the second Tower go down. And I realized, if I hadn’t stopped to buy ribbon, I would probably have been in there.”
LEST WE FORGET
911’s 18TH ANNIVERSARY NEAR
George Morell‘s sister, Cathy Raddatz of Cooperstown, recalls her brother’s heroism in 1993, at the first World Trade Center bombing, when he carried a frail sandwich vendor from the 70th floor to safety. Eight years later, on 9/11, he called his wife and said, “Robbie, I love you. It’s the big one.” He was one of 638 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died that day. Cathy was speaking this morning before the start of the 9/11 Memorial 5-10K race, an annual commemoration organized by the Fly Creek Fire Company. At left is Fire Capt. Rick Kelly, who emceed; at right, Assemblyman John Salka, R-West Edmeston; behind Salka is Cathy’s daughter Gretchen. Inset, Cooperstown native Charles Hollister, who now lives in Oneonta, won the 5K event. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – A 34-year-old man shot himself in the foot with a rifle while attempting to shoot a woodchuck, according to Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr.
Around 4:20 p.m. yesterday, Otsego County 911 received a report from Edmeston of an accidental gunshot wound to the foot.
The injured party was transported by private vehicle to the New Berlin Fire Department, and was then transported by CMT and the New Berlin Emergency Squad to Bassett Hospital, where a considerable police presence was in evidence in the Emergency Room at late afternoon.
Police are required to investigate all gun-shot cases.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8
HERO RUN/WALK – 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Memorial run/walk for all the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11/01 and honoring the heroes who still answer the call. Fly Creek Volunteer Fire Company., 832 Co. Hwy. 26, Fly Creek. Visit hero5k.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=6181
RODEO – 4 – 11 p.m. Support your hometown baseball team at Saturday Night Showdown. Pre-rodeo features games, food, music. Rodeo kicks off at 7, followed at 9 by party with music, cash bar, snacks. Tickets, $20/adult. Available at SFCU locations, ISD, The Shipping Room, or Online. Oneonta Outlaws, Damaschke Field, 15 James Georgeson Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-6326 or visit www.facebook.com/oneontaoutlawsbaseball/
By PARKER FISH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
In a press release sent out this morning, Otsego County Director of 911 Communications Robert O’Brien announced that the county’s 911 dispatch department had secured $842,330 in New York State grant funding. The total sum is divided between two seperate grants: $157,687 under the New York State Public Safety Answering Points Operation Grant Program for upgrades to the call center, and $684,650.00 under the New York State Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant Program which will be used to build three additional communications towers to improve coverage for the dispatchers.
‘ACTION’ SATURDAY AT UNATEGO
OTEGO – Oneonta EMS, Otsego County 911 and Cooperstown Medical Transport are among the emergency-service agencies set to participate in an active-shooter drill at Unatego High School on Saturday, Jan. 23.
The drill, which will run 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., will help train emergency service providers on how to handle an active shooter scenario. It will be conducted by members of the state police, Wells Bridge Fire Department, Otego Fire Department, Unadilla Fire Department, Life Net, Otsego County Emergency Management, Franklin Fire Department and Sidney EMS.
Cooperstonians Remember 9/11
‘An Echo Of God’s Compassion’
•By LIBBY CUDMORE• AllOTSEGO.Life
On 9/11, just a few short hours after they watched the World Trade Center towers collapse, the Right Rev. Mark Sisk, then the Episcopal bishop of New York, and his archdeacon Michael Kendall waited at Roosevelt Hospital.
“We were waiting to give comfort to the injured,” said Sisk, who with his wife, Karen, attended the 9/11 ecumenical community service at Cooperstown Methodist Church, marking the 13th anniversary of the national tragedy. “But nobody came. The longer that went on, the more ominous it seemed.”
Then a journalist arrived. “He asked us, ‘Where was God when the towers fell?’” Sisk recalled. “And Michael replied, ‘God is in that pile with the suffering and the dying.’ I thought that was the perfect answer.”
The next day, Bishop Sisk put on his clerical gear and drove to the WTC site with Kendall. “We didn’t know if St. Paul’s Chapel had survived,” he said. “We wanted the NYPD, the FDNY to know that they were in our prayers, that we supported them. We didn’t know what we’d encounter, but I felt like I had an opportunity and a duty to go down there.”
They were able to pass through all the barricades with ease, and an officer handed them face masks. “He told us ‘You’ll need these.’ It was 7 a.m., and there was still ash in the air. It was inches deep at our feet. The smell was acrid. I looked down, and there was an air canister with the plane’s flight number on it.”
Miraculously, St. Paul’s was still standing, with only one window broken. And that’s when they got to work. “We made St. Paul’s a respite place,” he said. “We served hot meals, gave massages, gave the firemen and police a place to rest.”
Karen – the Sisks retired a year ago to their long-time get-away home in Jefferson – also joined in helping at the church. “When I got there, I saw a fireman, in full gear, asleep on the pew,” she said. “They were setting up beds in the upper balcony.”
Overwhelmed by both the generosity and the chaos, she and another volunteer set about cleaning up the coffee station. “There was creamer spilled and teabags everywhere,” she said. “That we could deal with.”
Later that day, she helped on the food line, serving hamburgers and hot dogs. “Another volunteer came up to us and said, ‘The workers in the pit are hungry – we need 50 hot dogs with a little bit of ketchup and mustard, wrapped up in foil so we can throw them down.”
Olive Garden donated salads, and local markets sent fruit. “I looked at the fruit and it didn’t look right,” she said. “It was covered in this fine, powdery stuff – ash. There was still debris in the air, even a week later.”
Sisk also began to hear stories of heroism from his parishioners. “One man was coming down the stairs after the plane hit and he saw a woman sitting down, too tired to go on. He told her, ‘I’m not leaving you here, we’ll go down together,’ and helped her get all the way down. He wouldn’t leave her until they got away from the building, and they had just gotten clear before it fell.”
He also listened to stories of grief and guilt. “One man finished having breakfast with his friends and went to catch the elevator. His friend called him back, but he told him he’d catch up with him later. But that was the last elevator that made it down. His friends didn’t get out.”
And when his work was done, the firemen gave him a memento in thanks for all his work – a cross made from melted steel and glass from the towers. “Your own compassion for people is an echo of God’s compassion,” he said.
Retired Bishop Who Witnessed 9/11
At Cooperstown Community Service
COOPERSTOWN – Cooperstown’s community memorial service for the victims of 9/1 on today’s 13th anniversary included two witnesses to the tragedy, Mark Sisk, the retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and his wife Karen.
After the service at Cooperstown Methodist Church, Bishop Fisk recalled that, on the morning after 9/11, emergency workers allowed him through the police lines where he was able to determine that Trinity Church at Broad and Wall and its historic St. Paul’s Chapel had not been damaged by the Twin Towers bombing.
In the days that followed, he spent much time assisting where he could in the damaged financial district, and wife Karen assisted in the emergency kitchen.
The couple have had a home in Jefferson, Delaware County, for years, and retired there in 2013. They planned to join Father Mark Michaels, rector, Christ Episcopal Church, and his family for supper after the service.