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Comforting words offered

By Staff
AT THE SCENE The New York skyline was changed forever when the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. This was the scene on Sunday when Meridian firefighters met with New York firefighters at Ground Zero. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 5, 2001
NEW YORK Meridian firefighters offered words of comfort to their tired and frustrated New York counterparts on Sunday at the site of their shared grief.
The workforce at Ground Zero where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood was scaled back this week.
New York officials announced only 75 people could work at the site because of safety reasons. Now uncovering the 15-acre wide and 15-story high pile of rubble are 25 firefighters, 25 New York police officers and 25 Port Authority police officers.
The rescue team made significant progress during Sunday's visit with Meridian firefighters when they uncovered the bodies of six people.
Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge and firefighter Gerald Mabry hung two flags along a barricade at the scene. One flag was made of hand prints by West Lauderdale Elementary School children; the other offered words of sympathy from Meridian residents.
As the claws of the cranes lifted red-hot steel beams into the air, oxygen fanned the fires below, sending gray and black smoke plumes high above surrounding skyscrapers. Tractor trailers carried the beams from the scene still smoldering from the fire.
Firefighters, covered in ash, still wore surgical masks to prevent dust inhalation. The surrounding buildings also showed bruises from the Sept. 11 attack, with windows shattered and pieces of metal gaping sharply into the sides of some structures.
Mabry said his stomach was in knots before the visit because he thought the team might not be so welcomed.
The firefighters also spoke with security officer Nathaniel Mincey.
Mincey had served as a security officer at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Now, he secures the crime scene.
Partridge, whose team visited with New York's Rescue 1 on Saturday to deliver $15,000 in donations from Meridian's residents, called the mission to New York a success.
Marianne Todd is a writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com or call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236.

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