Accessibility links

NY Residents Near Ground Zero Persevere to Rebuild Shattered Lives - 2004-09-10

The tragedy of September 11, 2001, touched the lives of millions of people in the United states and elsewhere. Some of those most affected lived near the fallen twin towers of the World Trade Center. Many have persevered to rebuild their lives and their homes.

Eliza Hicks is proud of her home. Like many New York City residents she lives in a renovated apartment in an older building. But the new appointments in her apartment were not just a matter of choice. Eliza Hicks and her family live right next to what has come to be known as Ground Zero. Their home was badly damaged when the World Trade Center came down three years ago.

"This is our building, and this is the World Trade Center. This is the South Tower," she said.

When we first met Eliza Hicks two and a half years ago the scene inside her home was one of devastation, six months after the terrorist attack. "Our state of mind when it first happened, after the second plane hit, we left. We walked up into the village to my brother's house. I don't even remember those first few days. We were really in a daze," she said.

Eliza and her family had moved to another place and were just beginning to sort through the wreckage that was their home for nearly 20 years. A tree branch, paper and pulverized concrete dust from the Trade Center blew in her apartment windows. The initial shock of the devastation made Eliza question her commitment to continuing living near Ground Zero.

"It's our home so we all want to come back. It's just a reflex to come back to your home. Sometimes I stop and think; will it really be a great place to live? I have doubts sometimes but I think we will come back. If this place ever gets fixed. It's a big mess," she said. The psychological damage to Eliza Hick's family and others living near the site seems to linger. "I worry a lot more than I used to about what is happening in the world," she admitted.

The ongoing noise and construction equipment at Ground Zero for the past three years will continue for years to come as new buildings are constructed on the site. "It's hard having construction on three sides of the building, that's a little much," she said.

Mostly, the residents near Ground Zero have adapted to their circumstances and are looking to the future, but with the unforgettable memory of that day three years ago.

"Every time I come around the corner I notice the space where the Trade Center used to be and I don't even notice that I notice it but it's true. I probably do think about it every day, I probably do," she said.