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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
New York: City of sirens
New York skyline
There is little traffic and few people about
By Greg Barrow in New York

The sirens that are such a feature of New York life will now be a constant reminder of one of this city's and America's greatest tragedies.


If you really want to know what New Yorkers are all about you just watch the way in which they handled themselves

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
New York's streets have been echoing to their mournful wail and Manhattan's citizens have been responding as only they know best.

Their mayor Rudolph Giuliani has been humbled by the public response to the disaster.

"I really have to commend them. If you really want to know what New Yorkers are all about you just watch the way in which they handled themselves," he said.

"They didn't panic, they moved deliberately, they moved swiftly, they didn't hurt each other, they helped each other, and they are just the most wonderful people in the world."

Pulling together

Those who live here have been doing what they can to help.

Firefighter at the World Trade Center wreckage scene
The thoughts of many are with those who died

First and foremost that means going to the hospitals to donate blood.

A gesture welcomed by New York state governor, George Pataki: "There were people from all across New York lined up to donate blood.

"They're not terrified of this horrible attack on New York, they're responding as New Yorkers do, by pulling together, showing their strength, showing their support for their fellow New Yorkers and that's why we're going to get through."

Eerily quiet

Just a few hours after the explosions at the World Trade Center and the collapse of the building, it is almost eerie to be on the streets of Manhattan.


All day it's been a constant stream of calling people you know, calling people you know who know people, just trying to make sure everyone you can think of is OK

A New Yorker

There is very little traffic and very few people actually out enjoying themselves.

Normally these streets would be crowded with people going to restaurants and theatres.

But it is quite quiet now, and most people are using this time to reflect on what has just happened.

"I guess there's just a lot of compassion going around," said one woman.

"All day it's been a constant stream of calling people you know, calling people you know who know people, just trying to make sure everyone you can think of is OK.

"I guess it's concern and just real sadness for what people are going through."

How the US should react

And there is also debate about how America, and President Bush in particular, should react to this deathly blow.

"I'm sure there's a lot of pressure on him to show that he's a powerful president," said one man.

"He's obviously just been elected and needs to show that he's not going to let this happen to our country.

"But I'd hope that we're more sophisticated and think a little bit more rationally about how we're going to respond to this and not just kind of do 'an eye for an eye' sort of reaction. I hope we think it through."

The thoughts of many are with those who died in this attack.

The authorities are yet to put a figure on the number of casualties, and that is the after-shock which could move many to replace compassion with rage and the desire for revenge.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Americas
Shaking New York's state of mind
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