New York: disaster report from a Daughter of Charity

 Sr Margaret M Clifford sent this report from New York to her sister community in Mill Hill this morning: Thank you for your prayers. They're helping us to get through this nightmare. Presently, people are coming in off the streets because we are a safe and a holy place for them. One woman was on her way to work and in a store across from the World Trade Towers. She saw people jumping out of windows after the plane hit. All I could do is listen to her as I have no formal education for crisis intervention (except life and what the poor have taught me). She felt better and was on her way across the street to pick up her little girl who is in third grade at our school. A husband of one of our employees just walked in: he saw everything happen, too and crumbled the second he got through our doorway. Fr. Charlie Plock CM, a Vincentian priest and also a Social Worker, is meeting with him and his wife now. One of our young parishioners was scheduled for brain surgery at Mt. Sinai this morning. We feel sure that it has been cancelled due to the alert that all of the city hospitals are experiencing. City here refers to Manhattan as opposed to the other Boroughs. Were getting ready to take care of people overnight if necessary. Most of the staff have readily volunteered, too, to stay and help as needed. The bridges are all closed to Manhattan and many of our parishioners and neighbours work there. Our students at the school (close to 700) know their parents work in the city. At this time, no child is being released to anyone but parents/guardians. Were getting the reports of what happened through those who have narrowly escaped while the subways were still running. I had a meeting with a gentleman this a.m. who was coming from the city on the elevated subway and saw all of it happen as well. He was still visibly shaken. Marillac Room is set up here for crisis intervention. One of the spouses of an employee offered to come into help. He's a psychotherapist and is recovering from lymphoma. When I went down to the Soup Kitchen to see if they had crisis counsellors available, the poor were finishing their breakfast. They were given the option to leave, but wanted to stay because this is safe here, this is home. Thank you for your prayers. The sun continues to shine here, it seems to be the only bright spot for today so far. I still cant get over seeing the Statue of Liberty in every shot of the city, such a contradiction for all that is happening at this time. We are fine and serving as best we can at this time. The Vincentians and Daughters are extremely present during this crisis here in one of the poorest areas of New York City. We are absorbed in to day but realize there is a tomorrow and the news may be even worse as we prepare to send some of our loved ones home to eternity. Sr Margaret M. Clifford DC

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