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Attack strands city-bound LIRR riders in Queens

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Barbara Markowitz was very thankful she had a root canal Tuesday morning.

If the Bayside resident had not needed the dental work, she would have taken the Long Island Rail Road into Manhattan where she works as a director of purchasing for the city in the Municipal Building, a few blocks from where the World Trade Center was destroyed by bombs and planes.

So instead of being stranded in Manhattan, which was essentially locked down, she was among a crowd of people at the LIRR station in Bayside talking to others and trying to make sense of the chaos gripping the city and the nation.

“I was deciding whether to still go into work after the dentist,” she said. “I guess it was decided for me.”

Ed Petrovitz of Bayside was on his way as usual into Manhattan for his 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift as a tape editor for CBS Network news. When he arrived at the LIRR station in time for the 9:57 a.m. train into Penn Central, he found out that no trains were going into or out of Manhattan.

“If I had gone in, I would have been there all day and night” to help out with the news coverage and because no one knew Tuesday morning how long Manhattan would remain sealed off, Petrovitz said.

Jackie Aronstein of Port Washington was on the LIRR bound for Penn Central, but when the train pulled into Bayside, the conductor announced it would be the last stop. She happened to meet on the train another psychotherapist, Amy Hoffman, who was also planning to go into her office in Manhattan. Both were trying to contact their patients, which was not too easy since cell phone service was backed up.

“We’re going to e dealing with a lot of trauma,” Hoffman said.

Baysider Richard McDermott, a retired teacher, went to the LIRR station to get the 10:05 a.m. train. He was planning to go to Borders Books at the World Trade Center.

“I thought I would wait until after rush hour,” he said.

“I think I’ll settle for Queens,” Anna Papandreou of Bayside said as her 3-year-old son, George, was nagging her for attention from his stroller. She said she had thought about returning to work in Manhattan, but now will be content to remain a full-time mother for George and her 7-year-old daughter Lianna.

Service was restored on the LIRR late in the afternoon

The situation wasn’t any better in the subways, which were shut down throughout the city in the aftermath of the attack and only gradually brought back into service later in the day.

“How do you get to Jay Street?” a passenger asked the token clerk in the Lefferts Boulevard “A” train station in Richmond Hill around 10 a.m.. “You don’t,” the clerk told him.

As passengers pelted him with questions, all the clerk could say was “nobody’s getting into Manhattan. You can’t get anywhere. If what you have to do is not essential, go home.

“It’s no joke. I would go home.”

Reporter Daniel Massey contributed to this report

Reach News Editor David Glenn by e-mail at glenn@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, ext. 139.

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