June 14 — A day better to forget

Photo by Natalie Oxford — A look at the Grenfell Tower, London, as it burned June 14, at 4:43 a.m., local time (11:43 p.m. EDT.)

By Kevin Canessa Jr.

For whatever reason, I woke up at 4 a.m., on Wednesday, June 14.

One of the first things I did was tune into Sky News from England on its live YouTube channel. I wanted to find out the latest with Prime Minister Theresa May — and whether she’d continue on as PM following the U.K’s recent general election.

Staring right back at me, on Sky, wasn’t May. It was, instead, a massive, 24-story residential tower, the Grenfell (they call these properties estates) whose entire 220-foot high façade was covered in flames.

Days later, it’s still quite hard to fathom the sheer absurdity of this fire. This was a high-rise building. This isn’t supposed to happen to apartment towers. The codes that govern these buildings are so strict, something like this simply shouldn’t happen.

But it was happening.

And perhaps most disturbing — many people who are unaccounted for were reportedly told to return to their flats to shelter in place rather than trying to make an escape from the one and only staircase in the entire building.

Think about that for a moment.

This high-rise building had one — one — stairwell.


I can’t help but wonder — and wait in anticipation to find out — whether the return to shelter in place commands cost lives.

As of the time I write this, 79 human lives were lost — and many more are feared dead.

In the coming months, we’ll find out how this happened. We’ll find out how a tower of flats could be completely destroyed. We’ll find out how it could happen in a city that has some of the strictest building codes of anywhere in the world.

Whatever the cause, we can only hope changes come from this awful incident.

And if ever there were any doubt about the kind of dangers firefighters face whenever they go to work, let this serve as a reminder. Hundreds of firefighters from the London Fire Brigade were on scene for this blaze. Reports say 45 different companies were there. And somehow —thankfully — every one of them survived.

Given the conditions, this is nothing short of a miracle in itself.

Now I watched all of this happening in London until around 8 a.m. Then, suddenly, the news cycle shifted exponentially — unfathomably.

It was around this time word came that a member of the House of Representatives, Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot in the hip at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., and that several others, including two from the Capitol police, were also shot.

Turns out the shooter, whose name we will not use, asked a Florida Congressman, also at the practice, whether the guys on the field were Democrats or Republicans. When he responded, “it’s Republicans,” just moments later, shots rang out.

This was one of the most stunning attacks since a year ago in Orlando. And despite knowing it was carried out by a very disturbed man, we can only hope that, as Congress did that day, the entire nation finally starts to come together for the betterment of the country.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan Jr., R-Wisc., said following the attacks.

We can only hope he truly means that.

Here’s also hoping we don’t have another day like June 14 anytime soon.

Odds & ends

Incredible generosity

• A few weeks ago, we put out a call to our readers for items for a family that lost everything in a horrific Elm St. fire. Your generosity was inspirational. We collected so many items, there was hardly room to store it before delivery. Thank you, one and all, who donated. And to Stevie Nash — you’re an amazing human being. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and for picking everything up for delivery to the family. Thank you, Bill Abbott and the Lyndhurst Rotary Club, for facilitation of donations. Thank you, Lisa Feorenzo, for opening our doors to the community. And thank you to Boa Vista restaurant for donating meals for the family. We are most grateful.

Is Alex Jones for real?

Megyn Kelly’s interview of Alex Jones taught me one thing: I had no idea just how vile and vulgar that man is. He still won’t back off his belief that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was staged and was completely fake.

I personally know the parents of two children who witnessed the horror of that day — their kids attended the school — and saw the aftermath of the killings, including sights adults should never have to see.

To claim it was all staged is disgusting, disgraceful.

Thankfully, Kelly exposed Jones for what he is — a complete and utter buffoon.

Not bad, Megyn

Speaking of Kelly — so far, her new NBC show has been solid. It airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on Channel 4 here in the Metropolitan Area until the NFL season kicks off. It’ll then go on break until the Super Bowl ends.

Any show that has Keith Morrison on it as a correspondent is OK in my book.

Is it autumn yet?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had enough of the hot summer weather. And summer has only just begun. September can’t get here quick enough! (Sorry, teachers, and Carm, not trying to wish away your summer vacations.)

A delightful senior picnic

Kearny Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle and her crew pulled off yet another tremendous picnic for the town’s senior citizens last week at Doyle Pavilion @ Riverbank Park. Well done, as always, councilwoman et. al.

The Mets season is over!

It’ll be June 21 by the time most of you read this. And for us Mets fans, it’s hard to believe the season is over. On June 21. With three+ months remaining in the season. Seems like everyone will have a DL stint by the time this season ends. Perhaps even (Terrence) Terry Collins will get on the list.

Oh well, at least the Devils have the No. 1 pick in this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again back in this space in three weeks.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the writer, Kevin Canessa Jr. Feedback is not only welcome, it’s encouraged. Contact Canessa at kc@theobserver.com or on Facebook &/or Twitter @kevincanessa.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.