NYC's Smallest Borough Still Dealing With Extraordinary Loss On September 11th

WABC - New York, NY

(Staten Island, New York-WABC, October 29, 2001) -- More than 300 New York City firefighters died in the September 11th attacks. Nearly a quarter of them lived on Staten Island. It is a disproportionate loss for New York's smallest borough, and they're taking it hard.

Of the 343 New York City firefighters who died in the World Trade Center attacks, 78 were from Staten Island. At Rescue 5, in the Concord section of the borough, 14 firefighters responded to the disaster, only one came home.

Lt. Robert Dimperio, FDNY Rescue 5: "You don't see the same faces. There's a third of the company missing. You look on the board, you see their names, but you know they're not coming back. It's not pleasant."

On Monday, family, friends and dozens of firefighters said good bye to Louis Modaferri, the popular captain of Rescue 5. The seemingly endless string of funerals on Staten Island has led to a tremendous outpouring of support for New York's bravest.

The thank you's are appreciated, but the gratitude can sometimes be a painful reminder of the tragedy. Joe Esposito lost 13 firehouse colleagues, a brother and a cousin. Joe Esposito, FDNY Rescue 5: "The minute they say 'thank you' you start reminiscing and thinking of everything that happened. I mean its a month and a half, but it seems like it happened yesterday."

Economically speaking, the terrorist attacks have not devastated Staten Island businesses the way they hurt lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. However, there are many nonprofit organizations in the borough and they are suffering as contributors are now sending their dollars to disaster relief funds.

There are also major concerns about the future of the Great Kills landfill. Right now it serves as crime scene area. As investigators sift through the rubble of what once were the Twin Towers, residents wonder if the city will reopen the landfill to save money currently spent on hauling trash out of state.

Lawrence De Maria, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce: "The last time the city asked us to open the dump for two or four years it lasted 50 years. So this would be stake through the heart of Staten Island, economically and morally."

And De Maria says that's too much of a price to pay for a borough that has already lost so, so much.

Rescue 5 Family Fund:
1850 Clove Road
Staten Island, NY 10304