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JERSEY CITY-A state park turned into a triage center, a redevelopment site turned into a morgue, commuter ferries turned into waterborne ambulances…that’s the scene that unfolded in New Jersey in the 24 hours after hijacked jetliners were flown into the twin towers of Manhattan’s World Trade Center Tuesday.

Liberty State Park and its Liberty Science Center has been a showplace of Jersey City’s rebirth. Tuesday, it became a symbol of the carnage wreaked by terrorists at the WTC, just across the river. With commuter ferries bringing the injured over in droves, the pristine environment was turned into a civilian MASH unit. And Newark’s Penn Station, which hosts thousands of commuters daily, was similarly turned into a triage site.

New Jersey’s commuter ferries put, Tuesday night, to an even more dire use. Victims of the attack were carried across the harbor to the largely vacant Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, NJ, which is destined for a massive redevelopment (see earlier story). Tuesday, however, a portion of the MOT was turned into a makeshift morgue.

At the same time, the closure of Hudson River bridges and tunnels prevented New Jerseyans who work in New York from getting to their jobs. Numerous road closures in northeastern New Jersey, for security and control of New York-bound traffic tied up business and commerce. The Port Authority of NY/NJ’s PATH rail system was one of the few functioning links between the two states.

Hospitals as far away as Red Bank and Neptune, 45 and 50 miles respectively from Manhattan, were pressed into service to treat victims. Commuter ferries to the New Jersey shore points of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands were turned into rescue vessels to get people out of Manhattan. “I didn’t know where it was going–I just got on,” one passenger told reporters after debarking in Highlands, 30 miles across the water from Lower Manhattan. The passenger actually resides in one of New York City’s outer boroughs, a long way from Highlands, NJ.

And, of course, Newark International Airport remained closed yesterday, along with the nation’s entire air traffic system. The hijacked United flight that crashed near Pittsburgh originated at Newark. And Continental Airlines, which carries 60% of all air traffic in and out of Newark kept its fleet grounded nationally at least through Wednesday, even if the FAA gives the go-ahead to start up national flight operations again.

Casualty figures, of course, are undetermined. Among the hardest hit will be the Port Authority itself, which was headquartered at the WTC. “We just can’t comment on that yet,” according to one PA spokesperson.

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