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New Yorkers Coping With Sept. 11 Attack Aftermath - 2001-11-11


November 11 is the two-month anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. A poll organized by a local television station, New York One, shows that New Yorkers, for the most part, are coping with the lingering horror of an event that terrorized the city as nothing else in recent memory.

Lower Manhattan is slowly limping back. Many of the barricades have been removed. But the site of the "twin tower" collapse is still a smoldering mass of debris that many New Yorkers seem to be deliberately avoiding. A survey suggests that only 25 percent of New Yorkers, one in four, have visited the area since September 11. Somewhere in that rubble, deep down in the earth, are the remains of nearly 4,000 victims still listed as missing - a mass grave in a city teeming with life.

September 11 impacted New York's economy. It changed the way New Yorkers move about the city. And for many, it seems to have altered the way they spend their time. But a survey by polling firm Blum and Weprin Associates finds New Yorkers a resilient lot.

"I think the most important things we found out from this poll are that New Yorkers are really going on about their business. They feel safe here. They aren't planning on leaving New York," says pollster Julie Weprin.

According to the poll, more than 50 percent of New Yorkers say their feelings about the city have not changed. Only 18 percent say they want to leave.

"It takes a lot to shake up a New Yorker," says one resident. "It's a tough place to live. It's a tough place to work. But it's a very rewarding place."

Most New Yorkers did not know anyone who was killed September 11. But about two-million people out of New York's eight-million residents say they did.

"You realize also that this city is much more of a small town than people understand that it is, that many more people really do know their neighbors, know the people that they work with, and that we're much more connected than people might think," says pollster Mickey Blum.

The survey by Blum and Weprin Associates also found that more than 60 percent of New Yorkers volunteered their services, gave food or blood or money, in the wake of the tragedy.

"New Yorkers in times of crisis always come together. There's always been an unspoken brotherhood, I think, between the people of New York," says another resident.

And pollster Julie Weprin points out this coming together among New Yorkers, so ethnically and socially diverse, has been uniform.

"Sometimes it's unusual in New York City to find such a hot topic where people agree. They really are approaching this in very similar fashion and emotionally reacting to it in the same ways. That's probably the most striking finding of this poll," she says.

There are still feelings of disbelief about September 11 among many New Yorkers, including this reporter. It is not that New York should be immune to the dangers and evil lurking in the world at large. But that attack on a glorious, late summer day in New York seems to have been a senseless act of cruelty. It may have brought out the best in New Yorkers, but it left thousands of families disabled and millions grieving.

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