With thousands of New Yorkers missing in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, city officials have set up a kind of command post for missing persons in a National Guard Armory on the city's lower east side.
One after another, they came to the Armory on New York's lower east side out of a mixture of hope and desperation. "OK, this is my brother," says a woman. "He was in One World Trade Center. He was on the 94th floor. His name is Nisam Hafeez. He is 32-years-old. He is about 165 pounds and about 5 feet 9 inches. He is wearing khaki colored pants and a green polo shirt. If anybody has seen my brother anywhere, please call the family."
Many people who came to the Armory carried handouts that included a photograph of the missing person along with some vital personal information. They posted them on street signs and trees nearby in a kind of makeshift memorial.
Several spoke with reporters on the scene in hopes of getting the word out about a missing loved one.
Kathy Munoz is looking for her husband, Francisco. "He was in Tower One on the 97th floor [and worked] for Marsh USA," she says. "He is 5 feet 11 inches [tall], 180 pounds. Black hair. Brown eyes. And we can't find him. His whole floor is missing and we have looked everywhere."
Heidi Bauer has been nearly frantic since her brother disappeared in the collapse of the World Trade towers on Tuesday. "If anybody sees or hears from him, please give us a call," she says. "He's got three kids and they need him now. Please. David Bauer from Rumson, New Jersey. He spoke with his wife right before it happened. We are looking for him. I know he is still out there. Please, somebody help me."
Others seem more prepared to accept what could be grim news about a loved one. Trudy Calendrillo has been to several city hospitals searching for her brother, Joseph. "I'm finding my brother, OK? I have to find my brother," she says. "I don't know where he is. I don't know whether he is on this planet anymore or he is up there now. I don't know. I have to see my brother. I want to see him. Even if it's a dead body at this point, it doesn't matter. If it's a dead body, I know it's OK now. I know he's up there. I know he's OK. I have to find him. I want to know that he's OK."
In some cases there is anger beneath the sadness and desperation. Lindsay Whittaker's stepdaughter, Karen Haggerty, was last heard from as she tried to make her way down from the 105th floor of World Trade Center Tower Number Two on Tuesday. "The ones who perpetrated this are not so much sinister as cowards," he says. "I think that is the only thing I can say. They are absolute cowards. They haven't got the guts to stand up and face people man to man. And I have this huge anger and yet, at the same time, I have to refocus myself back to my [step] daughter. Right now, I don't have time to be angry, you know what I mean? I just worry about her. I want her back."
By midday, the line waiting to enter the armory to fill out the missing person forms stretched around the block. But most people did not seem to mind, figuring it was the most useful thing they could do given the circumstances.