WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMBING (House of Representatives - March 10, 1993)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House the gentleman from New York [Mr. Nadler] is recognized for 60 minutes.

Mr. NADLER. Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my pride in the people who live and work in New York City for their courageous response to the catastrophic bombing of the World trade Center, in my district, on February 26, 1993. The bravery, courage, quick thinking, and genuine concern for others exhibited by each person whose life this disaster touched helped prevent even greater tragedy. The ability of average New Yorkers to cope with and recover from this catastrophic event is a fine example for all Americans. I am proud to represent citizens of New York today.

As New York recovers and looks toward the future, I want to remember the five innocent victims of this callous terrorism. When William Macko, Robert Kirkpatrick, Monica Smith, and Steven Knapp, all Port Authority employees, and John DiGiovanni, a dental equipment salesman, left their homes that cold winter morning it was a typical day. They went to the World Trade Center to do an honest job and provide for their families. During lunch hour, an enormous explosion in the nearby parking lot abruptly ended their lives. The injustice of this crime is incomprehensible. I offer my condolences to the families and friends of the deceased, who must endure the pain caused by the untimely deaths of their loved ones.

We will not forget the tragedy of these five senseless deaths, but we must learn from the strength and courage of those who helped each other remain calm and evacuate the buildings safely and efficiently. The afternoon of the blast, I visited the World Trade Center. Thousands of people emerged from the building gasping for fresh air after descending seemingly endless flights of stairs in dark, smoky stairwells. Despite the threat to their own safety, these New Yorkers demonstrated compassion and calm in a time of crisis by helping total strangers descend the dark staircases. One woman, whose disability confines her to a wheelchair, was passed from person to person until she was safely on the street outside.

Brave acts, such as this, were exhibited by both young and old. Courageous kindergarten children from P.S. 95 in Brooklyn were trapped in a dark elevator for 7 hours. These children and their chaperones sang songs to comfort each other from the terror of not knowing the cause of their situation and the extent of danger they faced. They were rescued when James Sherwood, a lieutenant of the New York City Fire Department, sledgehammered a hole through a wall where he heard faint voices. Another group of schoolchildren visiting the Trade Center that day remained trapped on the outdoor observation deck, 110 stories above New York City streets in the cold winter air. Parents of the children waited anxiously for several hours before their children were brought safely to the ground.

The suffering that many endured waiting for information about family and friends who were in the World Trade Center at the time of the bombing was equally painful. An employee in my office anxiously waited for 2 hours before she learned that her father had safely escaped the 99th floor of One World Trade Center.

Every New Yorker took justifiable comfort in knowing that New York's uniformed services were prepared and in control of the situation. Were it not for the expertise, courage and professionalism of these brave New Yorkers the tragedy would have been even greater.

I personally witnessed the New York City police skillfully maintain order in a situation which would seem to encourage panic and chaos. New York's Finest had full command of downtown Manhattan, facilitating the rescue of thousands.

The New York City Fire Department quickly controlled and extinguished the fire caused by the explosion, and rescued many trapped by the smoke throughout the Trade Center. One survivor recalled how firefighters rescued him and friends from the basement by beating back flames caused by the blast, shielding them, and guiding them to safety. There are numerous examples of heroism that took place on that day. I am extremely proud of each member of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department for their work.

New York's emergency medical service workers also played a heroic role in saving lives that day. They immediately established triage areas as people emerged from the building covered in soot, treating them skillfully and efficiently. EMS quickly and successfully treated a seemingly unmanageable number of people. We are grateful to have had their care and expertise working to help numerous New Yorkers.

The courage of ordinary New Yorkers on February 26 saved us all from even greater losses. Now we must concentrate on achieving full recovery from this bombing. I want to commend Governor Cuomo and Mayor Dinkins for their leadership and compassionate response to this disaster.

Unfortunately, many businesses were lost, and others have had to relocate temporarily. The Small Business Administration quickly declared the World Trade Center an economic disaster, and distributed funds to save many of the businesses that have tremendously suffered. On behalf of New Yorkers, I thank the SBA for its timely response.

President Clinton's concerned response and continued support since the afternoon of the tragic bombing is also greatly appreciated. I join Governor Cuomo in asking President Clinton to provide further needed assistance by offering FEMA funding to aid in the recovery of those who are suffering because of the bombing.

Madam Speaker, in the wake of the tragic World Trade Center bombing, we must look to the future. First, every one of the perpetrators of this horrendous crime must be brought to justice. Americans should not and will not stand for this cowardly act to go unpunished.

Second, we must carefully examine our emergency preparedness systems so that we can reaffirm our confidence in our infrastructure. We must be confident that we have the ability to cope with any future crisis.

Finally, we must never forget the courage exhibited by those who were trapped in the World Trade Center on February 26. They serve as an inspiration to us all.

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