9/11 Recovery Worker Spent 257 Straight At Ground Zero

Bridge Street

On September 11th, 2001, Michael Bellone had just fallen asleep after a shift as a medic in New York City when his phone rang.  A friend asked if he knew what happened at the World Trade Center.  He pulled on his clothes and headed to the site.

That was the first of 257 straight days working on recovery efforts at Ground Zero, and the start of twenty years of keeping the memories alive of people lost that day.  He’s lived for much of that time in Seneca Falls.  But he returned to New York for the remembrance ceremonies and checked into the same hotel room overlooking Ground Zero that he’s booked for 20 years.  As he prepared for the 20th anniversary memorial observances, Mike Bellone joined us from there with his wife Julie.

Bellone had hoped to use his medic experience to help at Ground Zero.  But the rescue phase soon gave way to recovery, and Bellone helped in efforts to search the rubble and make contact with family members of victims of the attack.  He met Julie at a nearby church.  He caught a few hours sleep in the church pews between 20-hour work shifts.  She made her way there from the Finger Lakes to volunteer as a physical therapist.  They struck up a friendship that led to marriage, and he moved with her to Waterloo a few years later.

Since the attacks, Mike has traveled near and far, helping young people understand what happened on 9/11, and keeping alive the memories of those lost.  His own health has suffered, a result he believes of the toxins he breathed in during the days following the attack.  But Mike Bellone still has a 9/11 Learning Center in Waterloo, and he’s available for educational presentations to keep the memories alive.

You can reach him at 347-351-6108 or mbellone@tracteam.org.

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