Sunday, September 11, 2005

The following appears courtesy of Knight Ridder News--
New Yorkers say they're repaying a debt from 9-11
Sun Herald
(KRT) - Unfinished business.
Chris Edwards and John Seiler, a pair of stocky, bald and tattooed retired New York City firefighters drove from Manhattan to Biloxi in a Red Cross truck Monday because they felt like they had unfinished business.
Edwards and Seiler had worked in the pit, or "ground zero," after Sept. 11, 2001, desperately combing through the wreckage of the World Trade Centers to find friends, firemen, survivors, anything.
After Sept. 11, Americans poured into New York to help. Now, New Yorkers are coming to South Mississippi with relief workers, law enforcement and artists helping after the most catastrophic event in America since that horrible, bright September morning in 2001.
"The trip that we're taking ... we're not holy rollers or anything," said Edwards, 46, who retired from Engine 81 in the Bronx recently because of medical issues. "I'm not on a mission. I just feel like we have unfinished business to help out the people down here who helped us, whether they was there helping or just here praying for us."
For Edwards and Seiler, it's also a little more than that.
The two are apart of the Disaster Action Response Team, a group of retired firefighters who assist the Red Cross in nearly every disaster. Their job here has been to bring supplies to the neighborhoods most affected.
When the two show up in a place to distribute food and water, it's like a whirlwind of energy. They run door to door asking, "how ya doin', hon?" hand out hugs and shed tears.
For them, this is also a bit of therapy for a wound that still has not closed, Edwards said.
"People still come up to us and give us hugs and say, `sorry,' four years later," said Edwards, sporting an FDNY shirt. "When you come down here and see the devastation, it brings back bad memories."
The devastation even overwhelms them sometimes, despite the horrors they said they experienced in the days after Sept. 11.
Driving through neighborhoods, where the unique smell of rotting flesh is overwhelming, often gives them pause, Edwards said. In addition, they find the scope of what happened nothing short of amazing.
"We had it bad in 9-11, but this is worse," said Seiler, 48, who sports a large "9-11-01" tattoo on his left forearm.
"What we had in 16 acres, they have in three counties," agreed Edwards.
But that seems to only have motivated them to work harder.
"They are a couple of tornados," said Richard Gonzalez, who is in charge of the Red Cross' food distribution program. "If I had three or four of them in trucks, we could feed the whole county. I can't say enough about those two. They're going where the need is the most."
Support from New York has come in myriad other forms, too.
Scott LoBaido, a professional artist from Staten Island, N.Y., stood in the heat on a roof in Orange Grove last week painting a 15-foot by 50-foot American flag, holding the roller and cursing the temperatures. He has been painting American flag murals on walls for about 15 years, but his workload grew after Sept. 11.
The 40-year-old LoBaido, who operates Scott LoBaido Studios, said he was inspired to paint murals in Manhattan in 2001 and again last week in South Mississippi after he saw Katrina's destruction.
"I watched all of it (on TV). I saw this thing coming. I watched the weather. You could tell the newscasters were afraid," he said.
LoBaido found a ride to South Mississippi and told his driver to drop him off the day after the storm somewhere he could volunteer. He found the Eagles Wings Foundation in Gulfport and began passing out food. He met Adam Plitt, a Gulfport teacher who found him the roof.
"We are needed here. The whole country was needed during 9-11. We got hit very badly. The whole country came. That's why I stayed there. That's why I came here. It's called returning the favor," LoBaido said.
The flag roof was the talk of the neighborhood as LoBaido was finishing up Thursday on East Burch Street off Dedeaux Road. A Red Cross helicopter flew over. LoBaido said he picked a rooftop partly because he thought it would be a morale booster for the large military contingent flying over Gulfport.
LoBaido said he passes the former World Trade Center site about three times per week, but Katrina's destructive swath was terrifying because it covers a large area.
Lt. Brendan Murphy was one of 14 Harrison, N.Y., police officers who also came to Gulfport. He said that here, memories of Sept. 11 came flooding back. He worked in New York City coordinating the efforts from a control center after the attacks.
"We watched what was going on (during Katrina). I think it is worse than what was reported," Murphy said. "I think it is a disgrace the way FEMA and the Red Cross have worked. That's because I'd say they're everywhere CNN tells them to be."
He also said Gulfport police were as good as any he had seen. As a surprise, the Harrison officers had 45 pizzas delivered from New York to the Gulfport operating center.
In addition to New York police and artists, one man connected to the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., came to Biloxi to work in Katrina's aftermath. Forensic Dentist Warren Tewes of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT) is helping find and identify the dead, just like he did in Pennsylvania.
Tewes said the scenes on the ground in Pennsylvania affected him deeply. People there were never referred to as victims, he said. They were called heroes, which he said was different from the dead in South Mississippi, who were overwhelmed by a natural disaster.
He also said that another difference from his work with Flight 93 is the amount of time it will take to complete the identification process because the dead in Mississippi are scattered across several counties.
Tewes remained on the Flight 93 Federal Task Force, which was in charge of picking the design for the memorial to those 44 passengers and crew who fought their four captors. Plans for the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, Pa., unveiled earlier this week, will include chimes for each of the dead located in a chapel.
"Freedom isn't free," Tewes said. "Flight 93 is about celebrating the sacrifice of others."


Blogger Johanna said...

It's amazing how everyone is desperate to help each other in times like this. More power to you.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Dale Emery said...

How can I contact you guys? My weblog:

12:03 PM  
Blogger Willy Mesquita said...

you coment in my blog today?

2:57 PM  
Blogger ~Spiritwind~ said...

Good to hear some nice news for a change, and am sure we will begin to see much more of this kind of action as hearts begin to open again! Great blog!

4:26 PM  
Blogger melinda said...

thank you for the time and energy you've put into your site, I've watched and read for the past week. I'm curious and would like to know if you think the death count is being 'skewed' seems near impossible to have such low numbers. From your vantage point are we being told the truth?

8:07 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Great blog. Thanks.

8:32 PM  
Blogger taylor said...

you have a great blog. my parents are in pascagoula and have lost everything, and when i went down last weekend to help out i was amazed. the destruction everywhere is just unreal, and pictures just don't begin to describe how bad it really is. but it is so awesome to know how much people care and are helping out in every way they can. i really enjoyed reading this article, and i will definitely be back to check your blog!

8:56 PM  
Blogger Aether said...

I have just discovered this blog and in spite of the terrible nightmare you all are living I can feel a bit of hope. Maybe it's because the good people helping each other, the sense of humor the huricane couldn't destroy.
By the way, happy birthday.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Emily Courtier said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Mone said...

Thanks to you guys we are in touch with whats going on over there. The wold will be seeing, how strong America really is.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Emily Courtier said...

There is no one to blame for hurricane Katrina. Everyone should stop pointing fingers. God intended this to happen. New Orleans was a city full of sin. Not to say that everyone was participating in these sins. But look at all the gambling and prostitution that goes on in that city. It's just like how he wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible. I am not going anywhere near Las Vegas. I wonder if that city is next. Sodom is like New Orleans; maybe Las Vegas is going to be like Gomorrah.
All I know to say is that I am praying without ceasing for all the hurricane victims. Someone in Loveland, Ohio loves all of you. I wish I could give you all money but I am a broke college student. The power of prayer is amazing. GOD IS AWESOME! He may have taken everything from people but he will never leave or forsake you. He loves everyone unconditionally. He will get all of you through this hard time. Just turn to him in prayer and he will help you. God is sending many people down there to help. I can't physically go down there to help because I am very ill. Everything I eat is making me sick. I am so worried about people that I can't eat or sleep. I have to have a colonoscopy tomorrow because the doctors can’t find out what is wrong with me. But I do not care if I have cancer or some other disease. All of the hurricane victims have lost everything. Cancer would be a minor thing if you ask me.
"With the coming of the dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished."
~ Genesis 19:15 ~
"Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah - from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot's wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt. Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived."
~ Genesis 19:24-29 ~
To all the victims and families of the victims I am praying for you. Since Katrina hit I have been praying without ceasing. God has called me to be a missionary. I went to church crying on Wednesday August 7th. Sitting alone in the sanctuary the Holy Spirit told me to “Have faith my child.” I was also told several years ago that I was going to reach thousands of people and bring them to Christ. I am a 24 year-old Criminal Justice student at the University of Cincinnati. I am considering not going to school this quarter because I want to start my own non-profit ministry. I would like to take a group of people down there but right now I am too sick to do it. Would anyone be willing to volunteer for Courtier Ministries?
I do not have any money and would need donations to be able to go down there and help. I might also consider starting a ministry out of the Dayton/Cincinnati area. I would like to collect supplies or donations to send down there. I cannot just sit back and do nothing. People are hurting and they need my help. I just need some volunteers to get my ministry off the ground.

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."

~ John 15:12-17 ~

GOD IS AWESOME!!! He will pull everyone through this that turns to him for strength. People may have lost everything but amidst the chaos, rubble, and floodwater he is still there. He still hears your cries and your prayers. Have faith and he will provide for you. I believe in the innate goodness of mankind. If we all unite and pray harder than we've ever prayed we will be able to get everyone through this catastrophe. God bless all of you.

Industrious Servant of the Almighty King,
Emily Louise Courtier

Courtier Ministries was founded on September 11, 2005
If you would like to make a donation to my non-profit ministry you can send a check to:

Christ's Church at Mason
5165 Western Row Road
Mason, Ohio 45040

In the line of the check that says, for: please put Courtier Ministries, Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

To learn more about Christ’s Church at Mason, please visit their website:

3:52 AM  
Blogger Dr. Tim McGuinness said...

You guys are heros! I've been there myself, both helping and surviving Andrew and a few others. Seeing this changes your life, doesn't it?

Here's a couple of sites you might find interesting: (check out the section on Hurricane Camille)


4:53 AM  
Blogger Mike Scibetta said...

I just happened upon this blog and wanted to share with you a brief thought. I moved to Los Angeles from New York where I was living on 9/11. The national outpouring of support, empathy, and good wishes at the time were overwhelming. It was hard to imagine just how powerful an effect the attacks had on the country. It was almost unbelievable - I just couldn't imagine that people so far removed were so affected.

I no longer find that unbelievable. Even here in Los Angeles we feel the emotional effects of Katrina. Of course, not anything compared to what all of you must be experiencing, but a strong and very real connection to you all and a wish that, somehow, we could take even some of the pain for you. I can now understand how, from halfway across the country, the pain can be very real.

All of our thoughts are with you.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Jurgen said...

Nice (or is scaring the better word?) to see the people's story, not what the media want us to see...
Hang in there!

7:20 AM  
Blogger MKeller said...

Dear Emily,
Praise the Lord that you came along and shed your enlightenment upon all of us heathens.
Wait...hold on a second.

O.K., I'm back. Sorry one of my buddies had a weird muscle twitch. After draining him with leeches didn't do the trick, I figured the malady was clearly originating from a particularly loathsome demon. I was just finishing flaying off the soles of his feet when I read your luminous entry.

I now know what questions to ask and I'm running out to ask them now.

I will go to the tens of thousands of good God-fearing people here in MS and in AL who lost everything and ask them whether they mind being incidental casualties of God's vengeance for sin in New Orleans.
Thank you for realizing what so few have.

Your fellow wing-ed commuter with cloud-hopping angels,
Mike Keller

8:47 AM  
Blogger Free iPods said...

Nice Blog. Check this out, you can get a free iPod

11:10 AM  
Blogger connectaid said...

ConnectAid launches a non-profit search, tracking and communication portal for those impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

11:58 AM  
Blogger t_cole said...

Have you seen this? I am outraged!

I tried to copy you on an email I sent to Representative José Serrano (D-NY) but no luck on locating your email addy.
The US is turning away aid for huricanne survivors from qualified medical staff because they are from Cuba. I don't care if you are from Uranus - if you have a relevant skill, profession or trade or are simply able-bodied and can use a shovel - We will GLADLY accept your assistance!

would love to hear your take on this.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Ponderer said...

My words are small and a lot too late, but I have spread some of your words on my blog.

I had a desperate need to address Michael Moore's letter, but you found the words for me.

I want to thank you. Thank you Josh!!

Be safe, as best you can, and keep writing.

Thank you again.

11:30 PM  
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