As this area awaited the arrival of Hurricane Irene, there was fear that low-lying lower Manhattan was especially vulnerable. And what is situated down there? Ground Zero. The World Trade Center site. The below-ground “bathtub,” close to the Hudson River, where the 9/11 Memorial, which is to be dedicated this Sunday, is located.
Last week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that, “despite the rain, wind and storm surge,” the WTC site sustained “minimal damage,” and the 9/11 Memorial “remains on track for its opening on Sept. 11.”
Incredibly, the PA reported, the 60+ mph winds damaged not one of the 225 recently planted White Swamp Oak trees surrounding the reflecting pools that mark the footprints of the Twin Towers.
The Survivor Tree suffered no damage either.
This is a pear tree that stood on the WTC site long before 9/11 and was found amid the wreckage after the terror attack. Its branches had all been broken off, but it was still alive. It was taken to a Bronx nursery to be restored to health, was uprooted in a storm last year but was replanted and again began to thrive. It was returned to Ground Zero last December.
9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said, “The Memorial has weathered tropical storm Irene, and it remains as strong as the hundreds of men and women dedicated to building it. And true to its name, the Survivor Tree is standing tall at the Memorial.”
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni noted that PA employees “stayed on site for the duration of the storm and did whatever was needed to minimize any damage, including hours spent in the driving rain sandbagging and checking for wind damage. We made a sacred commitment to get the memorial open, and no amount of rain or wind is going to stop us.”
— Karen Zautyk