Thornhill volunteering at WTC ground zero

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 25, 2001

The Associated Press

JACKSON – Last Christmas, Ann Thornhill of Natchez was in Meridian caring for tornado victims.

This year, she was in New York helping survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack rebuild their shattered lives.

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A volunteer nurse for the American Red Cross since 1993, Thornhill, working from an office in Brooklyn, has been visiting victims unable to come into centers for help. Many are elderly who lived near the World Trade Center but are displaced because of damage to their apartments.

”I’m glad to be able to be here,” said Thornhill, 63.

Of the dozens of Mississippians who have traveled to New York as volunteers to help attack victims, Thornhill is the only one still there.

Richard Brown of Pascagoula, the only other Mississippi Red Cross volunteer in New York City, returned home Sunday morning.

It will be some time before he forgets his experience, he said.

”The devastation is unbelievable. You have to separate yourself from what was going on. It was too overwhelming if you didn’t,” Brown said.

A mass care specialist who oversees the feeding and shelter of victims and volunteers, Brown first arrived in New York City in early October.

Thornhill said she planned to spend Christmas at a New York City hotel relaxing and seeing ”just what’s going on in New York.”

As an orthopedic nurse at Natchez Community Hospital, Thornhill said she’s always worked holidays.

She and her husband, W.C. Thornhill, have no children, so ”I always worked on holidays for the younger people who needed to be home with their children,” she said. After 25 years of service, she retired from the hospital in February 1998.