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Saturday, 15 September, 2001, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
'The shock's not set in yet'
Times Square
Times Square is draped in flags and banners of support
Ryan Dilley

With a new week looming, New York is trying to return to normal. But the attack on the World Trade Center still weighs heavily on the minds of its citizens.

Sixty blocks from the still smouldering remnants of the World Trade Center -"ground zero" of Tuesday's terror attack - a woman emerges from a subway station. On her lapel she wears a ribbon of red, white and blue.


The shock's not set in yet - wait until we start pulling bodies out of the rubble

Officer Gironda
With every passing hour, more stars and stripes flags appear in shop windows and sprout from the radio aerials and wing mirrors of the light traffic - joining those already hung at half mast.

They can be found in all sizes, from some no larger than a postage stamp to the one bigger than a bedspread which dwarfs the entrance to an adult bookstore off Times Square.

Flag making company
Business is booming for flag makers
Hundreds of thousands of flags have been sold in recent days across the US.

In this vast city whose inhabitants are not usually inclined towards even exchanging glances, the red, white and blue has become a welcome symbol of solidarity.

Even in Puerto Rican communities, where the Caribbean island's banners normally proudly flutter alone, the stars and stripes can now be seen.

Song of praise

As evening descends, the pavement outside Carnegie Hall is bathed in flickering candle light. Two dozen New Yorkers have gathered to sing America the Beautiful.


A song for the living and for the dead
Soon others stop to join them. Neither the yellow cabs nor the military jets streaking over Manhattan drown this impromptu choir.

"Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!" Voices dip and crack, then rise again. "America, America! God shed His grace on thee!"

A few streets away, a shrine has sprung up around a fountain. More candles illuminate the posters pleading for information about missing loved ones.

"To any ER staff, have you seen my sister?" begins one. In bus shelters, on apartment fronts and taped to lampposts, flyers give the addresses of centres where food and clothing are being gathered for those digging in the rubble downtown.

Candles in shrine
Candles lit for the missing - now assumed dead
This is very much a city struggling to comprehend the catastrophe still being played out at its southern tip. "It's very quiet, very quiet," says one taxi driver of business.

New Yorkers are going out - the restaurants and bars are full - but they are staying close to home in their neighbourhoods.

Flag on a wall
A city bowed but not beaten
Over dinner, survivors recount their narrow escapes. "It's like we're a million miles from the twin towers," says one.

In the bars, the same stories are being told amid juke box din and the latest TV reports from the scene. Despite the crush to buy drinks, a politeness and gentleness not often associated with New Yorkers is clearly in evidence.

Many citizens defiantly express a desire to see life in this city return to its normal patterns, but as Monday draws closer a sadness hangs in the air, perhaps still heavy enough to thwart any "business as usual" hopes.

'Everyone's pulling together'

"We're not even close," says Officer Gironda, dropping off his dusty police uniform at a dry cleaners which has waived all charges for those involved in the rescue effort.

Rescue workers with flags in foreground
Rescue workers continue their grim task
"This is just the tip of the iceberg. The shock's not set in yet. Wait until we start pulling thousands of bodies out of the rubble."

The powerfully-built police man points to the dry cleaners. "Everyone's pulling together. The shop owners have been great. They send us food, drinks."

In his six years with the NYPD, never has he been treated with such kindness, he says.

Sign in drycleaner's window
Every New Yorker is doing what they can to help
"I've had people coming up to me who've admitted to not being big fans of the police, but then thank us for what we're doing. It shows you that when something like this happens, people forget about their little squabbles. Now we have a common enemy."

Further along the street a traffic signal changes to red. A large lorry pulls to a noisy halt. On its rear mud flap is taped a homemade sign.

"Wanted: Dead" it reads. From below the lettering stares the bearded face of Osama bin Laden.

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


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