Family looks ahead after life, business disrupted by attacks
A fashion designer originally from Boardman and her husband try to deal with the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
By SEAN BARRON
NEW YORK -- Robert Savage was in a taxi taking his pre-school daughter to nursery school when he complained to the driver about a plane that seemed too loud. He also complained about its unusually low altitude.
"We went down Fifth Avenue, and I noticed everyone looking, but I didn't know what they were looking at," Savage said. "We turned on West 13th Street and a parking attendant yelled that a plane went into the World Trade Center."
When the first tower was struck, Savage thought the jet had veered off course. But when another plane hit the second building 20 minutes later, Savage said he knew it was terrorism.
Effects on the family: Savage, from Youngstown's North Side, and his wife, Nanette Lepore, a fashion designer from Boardman, talked about the effects the Sept.11 attack has had on them, as well as the clothing businesses they run.
"It's hard to be in business now. We don't know what'll happen," Lepore said.
About an hour after the attack, Lepore and her 30 employees evacuated their building, on 35th Street near the Empire State Building in the city's Garment District. Despite being several miles from ground zero, everyone left around 10:30 a.m.
Access into and out of Manhattan was closed, which meant Lepore's workers had to walk home. Several walked up to seven hours to reach their homes in Queens, she added.
Even though Lepore doesn't know anyone who worked in the World Trade Center, she said she feels great empathy for those who lost their lives and their families.
"There's so many levels of feelings for so many people, from the richest to the poorest," she said.
Rescheduled events: Lepore also said her company had to reschedule a fashion show slated for Sept. 12. Another complication for Lepore and her husband was that several interns who flew in for the event had no place to stay. The also couldn't leave because flights were grounded.
The fashion show took place about a week later, but instead of the estimated audience of 500, about 45 people attended, Lepore pointed out.
The Sept. 11 attacks forced the cancellation of various orders, many of which came from Italy, Lepore said.
"It's incredible how [the terrorists] have demolished our economy," Lepore said.
Savage said that a smaller clothing store he and his wife own in lower Manhattan, in the city's SoHo district, lost a lot of business the week after the attack, but suffered no damage. In the following weeks, however, business has picked up, Savage added.
Savage said he wanted to assist in the cleanup efforts but was turned away. He also said he thinks it's best to go to work and try to maintain a normal life, something New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has urged people to do.
Normalcy: In recent days, there has been more activity on the streets and in many restaurants, as well as a few other signs that life is slowly returning to normal, Savage noted.
The tragedy will cause people to re-examine certain values, Lepore predicted. Everyday concerns and problems seem smaller and more insignificant, she added.
She praised people for their generosity and for the ways many New Yorkers pulled together to help one another after the attacks. Lepore said she is still trying to see what she can do in addition to keeping her business going.
"I haven't figured out how to contribute yet," she said. "I hope this feeling of helping lasts."