NEW YORK (AP) People in the close-knit Rockaways neighborhood have spent the past two months struggling to recover from the loss of their neighbors in the World Trade Center. Then disaster struck again, this time even closer to home.
“Just on the heels of one horror, another,” said Fern Liberman, who lives two blocks from the site of yesterday’s American Airlines jetliner crash in the Queens enclave.
“We’re already devastated,” said Kim Moran, whose husband, John, was killed in the September 11 trade center rescue effort and who lives 10 blocks from the crash site.
“There’s still funerals here,” Mrs. Moran said. “This is a beautiful, tight-knit neighborhood, and it’s just devastating.”
Located on a sandy peninsula that separates Jamaica Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, the neighborhood is largely Irish, Italian and Jewish. It is home to many police and firefighter families, clustered in modest, middle-class homes not far from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Several of the neighborhood’s young men worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond firm that lost nearly 700 of its 1,000 employees in the terrorist attacks on the trade center.
“The idea that Rockaway was the victim of this I mean, anyplace it happened, obviously, is awful but it had a special significance to it,” said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has attended about 10 funerals at a nearby church since then. About 70 people from the area were killed in the September 11 attacks.
All 260 persons aboard the jetliner died. Authorities were scrambling to find out if several more people had died on the ground.
After the crash in Rockaway Beach, Gail Allen stood outside her home in a Fire Department jacket, holding a picture of her firefighter son, Richard. He was killed at the trade center and his memorial service was held Friday at the neighborhood’s St. Francis de Sales Church.
Asked how she was coping, she said, “A lot of prayers.”
Two months after the trade center attacks, “we’re still waking up and hugging each other,” said resident Marie Rudolph. “We haven’t gotten back to normal.”
The neighborhood has held many fund-raisers, clothing drives and food drives for families of the September 11 victims, said Gary Toms, associate editor of the community weekly The Wave.
“We were still trying to bury a number of our heroes,” he said. “This is going to compound the devastation a lot of people [have] to deal with.”
Mrs. Moran’s brother-in-law, Michael Moran, 38, brought the Rockaways’ grief and spirit to a national cable television audience Oct. 20 during the fund-raising “Concert for New York” at Madison Square Garden.
Mr. Moran’s widowed sister-in-law, Kim, said Michael Moran was off duty at his Manhattan firehouse at the time of the crash and got a ride to the scene from police.
“I thought of my husband, and I thought of his brother. I hope for Michael’s sake this wasn’t terrorism, because he’ll feel responsible,” she said. “He lost his brother; I lost my husband. I would hate for this to mean there will be more heartbreak here.”
Miss Rudolph said she was confident the neighborhood will survive.
“We’re a tight place, the Rockaways. We’ll get by. We’re down, we’re not out.”