Small New York town rocked by 9/11 attacks
Posted September 10, 2011
Valley Stream, N.Y. — Sunday marks 10 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and New Yorkers are mourning the more than 2,600 people who perished when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center's twin towers in lower Manhattan.
But just 17 miles away, the small town of Valley Stream was also rocked by the tragic attacks.
"All of us knew someone with a direct tie to someone at ground zero," said Mayor Ed Fare.
Valley Stream only has about 36,000 residents. Forty-one were killed on Sept. 11.
"We lost so much of our fabric, of our families, of our fathers and brothers and sisters that day, that you almost can't count it," Fare said.
Fare remembers the moment the first plane hit the north tower – he was teaching high school.
"Kids in class heard about it and thought it was one of those radio practical jokes," he said.
He ran to the third floor, looked out the window and quickly realized it was no joke.
"You could see the towers burning, from this building, and that was when it hit home," Fare said.
Because all of the New York City fire departments were called to ground zero, Fare and other volunteer firefighters had to step in to some of the city's neighborhoods.
"Our little Valley Stream volunteer fire department was covering city fires in Jamaica (in Queens) as a brotherhood," Fare said. "Everything had been shifted in."
Although the focus centers on lower Manhattan when people think about the Sept. 11 attacks, Fare said the impact on his community has not been forgotten.
"I see more people offering solace and sympathy and empathy and understanding to these families," he said. "What we have to hope, though, is in time we heal, but never forget."