went in to do what I could do, said Terence McConlogue 83,
who thought on the day after the collapse of the World Trade Center
that the rescue personnel would need counsel and found that a more
immediate need was diggers.
41, who lives in Easton, is a psychologist who has worked for the
New Jersey Department of Corrections. Though he now works at Valley
Youth House, where he counsels at-risk students, hes still
got friends from his law-enforcement days. And we knew as
soon as we saw the buildings come down, he said, that
the police and fire guys were going to take a pretty big hit.
the wake of the terrorist attacks, with almost all the citys
emergency manpower involved in the rescue operations at the World
Trade Center, New York authorities sent out an urgent call for assistance
to law-enforcement personnel in New Jersey. They needed people
to direct traffic, to provide assistance in support services,
McConlogue said. They needed all the help they could get.
Wednesday, September 12, he went into New York City with a group
of friends from the corrections department to see what help they
were trying to move mass amounts of rubble, he said of the
rescue workers at the devastated site. So he picked up a shovel
and joined them. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 220 pounds, Im
a big strong guy, he said.
it was backbreaking workthough the physical strain was nothing
compared to the emotional toll, McConlogue said. On Wednesday,
we were hoping to find survivors. You hold out a hope of finding
even one person alive.
when you looked at the enormity of the devastation, he continued,
you realized that the odds of finding someone were astronomical.
a while, false alarms raised everyones expectations. Rescue
workers carry beepers so they can be located in case theyre
trapped or injured. In video footage of the first hours of the World
Trade Center collapse, the beepers sound like a chorus of insects
in lower Manhattans concrete canyons.
we heard them, everything would stop, and everyone would zero in
on where the sound was coming from, McConlogue said. But most
of the alarms, it turned out, were tolling for the dead.
Thursday, we found five firemen who had fallen earlier, McConlogue
said. But we found no one who was alive.
hauled wreckage through Saturday, September 15, and was able to
document some of the devastation in the pictures you see on this
next week, he went back into the city, to the Family Center at the
Armory, which was the locus for people trying to find relatives
Zero was bad, McConlogue said, but everyone there had
a real sense of purpose and focus, of working on a task. At the
Family Center, there was an unbelievable sense of anguish, as they
waited for people you knew they were never going to see again.
were so many of thempeople holding out pictures and saying:
He worked on the 100-and-something floor. They were
still holding out hope, and who are you to say, Dont
found himself working less with relatives of the victims than with
the grief counselors, trying to comfort them. Theyre
tackling this enormous task, and they need to vent as well,
he said. In grief counseling, you know you cant reverse
what happened. You can establish closure and get on with your life.
But a lot of these folks [the relatives at the Family Center] are
never going to get itto accept that their loved ones
the second week, McConlogue said, the volunteer rescue crews were
relieved by private contractors, hired by the city to continue the
work of excavation and disposal. The reason was that the volunteers,
though they labored with a will, were more injury-prone than trained
rescue workers, said McConlogue, who sustained a burn on one arm.
does he feel about the whole experience? I really dont
know, he said slowly. Its mixed. To see it was
unbelievable. But there are some things that human beings just shouldnt