Volunteer recalls outpouring of emotion near ground zero

Resiliency triumphed after attacks

Steve Stacey (left) and Gene Lawson prepare supplies inside the vehicle they took to New York City to help with disaster relief in 2001. (File photo)

Steve Stacey (left) and Gene Lawson prepare supplies inside the vehicle they took to New York City to help with disaster relief in 2001. (File photo) Photo by News Tribune.

It was 2 a.m., and Steven Stacey was hundreds of miles from home, dropping off supplies to a school near ground zero in the days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“The school was pretty much empty that time of the morning,” Stacey said, choking back tears. “I saw a rescue worker, helmet still on, boots still on, coat still on. He was as dirty as he could be, and was just sitting at a table staring at a bowl of cereal.”

As Stacey finished delivering the needed items from his Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle, he noticed the man had not moved and was still staring into the bowl of untouched cereal.

“I put my hand on his shoulder and asked if he was OK. I got nothing from him, so I asked again a few moments later. I asked if he was OK, did he need help? As he looked up at me, the only clean spot on his body was from the tears running down his face as he said, ‘We can’t find anybody else.’”

Even 10 years later, that story among many others from Stacey’s three-week deployment to the area around Ground Zero brings tears to his eyes, and also joy to his heart.

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Employed with the highway department at the time of the attacks, Stacey said he was lucky to be able to call the Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross, as an established volunteer, and get an immediate assignment to ....

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