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From the archives: Remembering 9/11

Editor’s Note: This story was first published in 2021 on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11.

The headline of the Sept. 13, 2001, issue of the News-Review read: “A time of terror.” Two words ran atop The Suffolk Times that day: “They survived.” It told the story of a harrowing escape from ground zero by Orient Point resident Nelly Davoren on the morning of Sept. 11.

The terrorist attacks on that pristine Tuesday morning occurred nearly 80 miles west of Riverhead Town, but the reverberations could be immediately felt locally and it became clear a generational story was unfolding.

In the immediate aftermath and the subsequent weeks, the headlines in both papers featured accounts of heroism, generosity, healing and grief as residents struggled to comprehend the attack.

Here’s a look back at some of those headlines and how the story of the worst terrorist attack in American history unfolded in Riverhead and Southold towns.

‘Escape from New York,’ Sept. 13, 2001

Shortly before 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Betty Goldrich and her partner, Cara Galowitz, were getting started on their day, puttering around their apartment on North Moore Street in Manhattan, eight blocks directly north of the World Trade Center, when out of the blue, a terrible and frightening noise tore through the sky.

“We heard a vrooom — Pow!” said Ms. Galowitz. “It sounded like it was right outside. I said, ‘Uh-oh. That was a plane crash.’ ”

Telling the story just three hours later on the peaceful North Fork, 75 miles from Manhattan, while hugging their little dachshund, Ophelia, they were a world away from the spreading destruction and carnage that had engulfed their trendy city neighborhood. And they still were shaken, probably in shock, and they still didn’t feel safe, even as they told their story in the Mattituck offices of Times/Review Newspapers.

Gwendolen Groocock

‘They survived,’ Sept. 13, 2001

Tuesday is farmers’ market day beside the twin towers of the World Trade Center. And for 10 years, the Terry Farm truck has been there with produce from Orient Point.

Tuesday, Sept. 11, was no exception. Manning the stand bright and early were Billy Halsey of Westhampton and Nelly Davoren. They were there when the jets crashed into the towers. They survived the hail of burning debris. And they escaped with their lives.

“They were the last people in the market,” said Ethel Terry Wednesday morning. “By the grace of God, they survived.”

After the too-low plane flew by, Ms. Davoren heard a “big bang” and metal started cascading around them. “Billy told us to get in the truck.” Once there, a young Asian woman ran past and “popped a baby into my arms,” shouting that she was going into the Trade Center to look for her husband. The woman was gone for five or 10 minutes, but “it felt like an hour,” said Ms. Davoren in her Irish brogue. “I was afraid she’d never come back.”

Jeff Miller

‘A light in the darkness,’ Sept. 20, 2001

They stood shoulder to shoulder, clutching candles in prayer.

All across the area, people of faith have sought comfort and solace in prayer services and vigils in churches, temples and even in secular settings such as a hospital and a municipal office building. In the uncertain hours after last week’s devastating terrorist attacks, people of different ages, religious affiliation and ethnic backgrounds have gathered together to share grief, disbelief and the unspeakable horror and unimaginable loss that are the unavoidable aftershocks of the destruction of the World Trade Center and thousands of the people who worked there.

Many found comfort, if only for a moment.

‘Terror that touched so many,’ Sept. 20, 2001

Mattituck High School graduate Shannon Reidy was in the Borders bookstore in the World Trade Center early last Tuesday. Then she walked to her job nearby in the World Financial Center. On her way up to the 28th floor, she felt the elevator shake. When the door opened, she found “people screaming that a plane had hit the World Trade Center,” said her mother, Nancy, of Mattituck. 

She was back outside when the second plane hit. “People started falling on the ground, screaming,” said her mother. “She ran.” And she kept going, eventually crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, from which she stopped to snap an unforgettable picture of the burning towers. 

Shannon Reidy turned 22 on Saturday. “Happily, for us,” said her mother. 

‘Candles in the dark,’ Sept. 20, 2001

Individually and in groups, they came — young and old; Christian, Jew, Muslim and agnostic; white and black; liberal and conservative. They all came on a rainy Friday night to the Jess Owen Carousel House at Mitchell Park to share the pain and emotion they’d been experiencing over the last three days.

“I wondered if the carousel was an appropriate place for such a solemn event,” said Mayor David Kapell. “But perhaps, in a way, it’s poetic justice, a starting point for resurrection. My greatest concern is that this act that was designed to divide us will do just that,” he told the solemn gathering of about 300 people.

Reminding them as they lit candles and stood shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors that only American Indians can lay claim to being natives, he clearly embraced the theme that was in their hearts and minds. “We’ve got to stay together,” he appealed.

“Let peace prevail,” called out a person from the audience. “Let’s love one another,” someone else cried. “That Lord, thy God’s will be done, not man’s,” came the words from another. “It’s praying time,” offered yet another. 

Julie Lane

‘Terror that touched so many,’ Sept. 20, 2001

Answering the call for help, six Riverhead Town police officers traveled in to Manhattan shortly after last week’s disaster to cover posts normally worked by their city brethren.

The job entailed working 12-hour shifts between the time they left for New York on Wednesday and their return Friday. They left with lasting impressions of two extremes: The warm welcome they received from residents and the utter destruction they saw firsthand at “ground zero.”

Led by Lt. David Lessard, the Riverhead contingent brought a squad car and a four-wheel-drive pickup. They were assigned to the 6th Precinct near St. Vincent’s Hospital, and later worked at a community center set up to provide victim information. 

They also had the opportunity to see the World Trade Center site for themselves.

“It’s just surreal,” the lieutenant said of the destruction. But balancing that was the expressions of gratitude given by people they met on the street.