Melted boots, faded batteries: supply depot has it covered
By Beth Nissen
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Serving as supply central for ground zero, a parking lot outside the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan is stacked with donated goods from across the country, sorted and distributed by a battalion of volunteers.
They include Cris Carnicelli, who was, until last Tuesday, a waitress in a World Trade Center restaurant.
"This place has become essential. Anybody who's coming here to get supplies is going down to ground zero. And we know that," Carnicelli said.
The center depot is well stocked with a number of necessities for emergency efforts. A group of police officers might walk out with filter masks, flashlights and batteries. But other requests are harder to fill.
There is a request for 30 respirators but Carnicelli finds there are none of the type. The depot is short of air filters that can remove asbestos, which some fear swirls around the smoldering remains of the twin towers.
Depot coordinators print daily updates of the most critical shortages. On today's most-needed list: cell phone chargers, asbestos-grade respirators and boots.
Some of those sifting through ground zero reportedly need a new pair after every few hours. Nelson Santiago, an unemployed demolition worker, said he has seen hundreds of ruined pairs of work boots.
"Some of them come torn in half. Some of them break down in half. And some of them will be, like, wasted on one side or the other. Melted, because of the heat," he said.
As work at the attack site reaches new levels, the requests for supplies change. Some emergency crews need rappelling ropes to drop down into a hole about 200 feet deep.
Like everyone else, volunteers here have held out hope of survivors. But the supply requests paint an increasingly grim picture. Carnicelli was sending out boxes of heavy work gloves, until yesterday.
"Now as they dig deeper and start investigating and doing forensics and stuff, we've been getting requests for rubber gloves," he said.
Boxes of mass trauma supplies, field dressings, medical sponges are being boxed up for storage, unneeded.
Workers recently took in a shipment of 2,000 small Styrofoam coolers, for storage of the body parts that workers are recovering.
Donations of goods and materials continue to flood in, some addressed simply to "Ground Zero, New York City."
Some contain still-needed goods: Eyedrops for smoke-stung eyes. Epsom salts for the weary. Vicks VapoRub is in high demand. It seems to give relief from the all the smoke and ash.
But supply workers repeated their call today for a halt in donations of clothing and other unneeded supplies.
"We do not need water. We do not need food supplies right now. We can't house all the stuff that people are trying to donate," said depot coordinator Cheryl Campbell.
Truckloads of overflow donations are being diverted to Shea Stadium, an hour's drive away.
Supply coordinators say what is most needed now is money, which is given to relief funds and the Red Cross. They also hope people will bank their good intentions; their willingness to help will still be greatly needed for weeks to come.
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