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Searching for a loved one -- and hoping, praying

Erica Zucker
Erica Zucker  

By Elizabeth Cohen

NEW YORK (CNN) -- As her sister desperately wandered the streets of lower Manhattan, Erica Zucker spent Wednesday making phone calls. Hoping. Praying.

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It's been nearly two days since she last spoke with her husband, a frantic call placed moments after the first jetliner careened into the north tower of the World Trade Center early Tuesday morning, beginning the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Andrew Zucker was in his 86th-floor office in the south tower of the World Trade Center. It was a short conversation. He reassured his wife.

"He said, 'I'm OK. I'll call you back,'" Erica recalled. "And he hung up."

Moments later, a second jetliner crashed into the south tower -- Andrew Zucker's tower.

"If I know Andrew, he stopped to help somebody," Erica said. "I don't want to think about what happened to him, but he's just not here."

But think she must. In the hours since the tragedy, Erica's thoughts have been on one sole purpose -- finding her husband. She says she thinks her husband still may be alive.

Erica is one of many people who stood in line, placed countless telephone calls and scoured the area in which the World Trade Center once stood trying to find something -- anything -- about their missing loved ones Wednesday.

As Erica worked the phones, her sister, Naomi Konovitch, and family friend Susan Feldman went out on a massive search -- one hospital at a time.

They started at the New York University Medical Center, only to find no answers. They proceeded on to Bellevue Hospital, and then on to Beekman Hospital. No one had seen him there, either. Then it was on to the Medical Examiner's office.

Still nothing.

"They don't have lists of people found dead," said Konovitch, who was told to gather dental records and hair samples in case they would have to identify Zucker's body. "They don't have anything."

Later in the day, after buying a mask to keep out the dust still circulating after all the explosions, she checked yet more public offices.

Andrew Zucker
Andrew Zucker was in his office in the south tower of the World Trade Center.  

Still no one had heard from Andrew Zucker.

"They said there were a couple of John Does in the hospital," she said, "and we're hoping to find maybe one of them is him."

A tired, frustrated Konovitch distributed fliers to the media, while her sister kept up the round of calls. To the hospitals. To the morgue.

Still, Erica holds out hope.

"If you do see him or you're with him," Erica pleaded, "tell him we all love him and hold in there. We just want him to come home."

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