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Mohawk ironworkers organize Haz-Mat rescue team for NYC

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HOGANSBURG, N.Y. ? Mohawk ironworkers with Haz-Mat training are organizing to join the rescue effort at New York City's World Trade Center.

Michael Swamp, business manager for the Akwesasne hall of Ironworker's Local 440, is coordinating recruitment of union members to relieve the hard-pressed workers clearing the rubble and searching for victims in the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

'I'm in contact with the New York National Guard as we speak,' he said. 'He asked me how soon we could be ready.'

The rescue team will come on top of a St. Regis Mohawk effort to send aid to police, firemen and volunteers in New York City. Some 100 Mohawk men were working on high-rise construction in the area at the time of the attack, and several have already joined the highly dangerous search for survivors.

On Thursday, the Akwesasne community sent a tractor-trailer load of bottled water from Iroquois Water to New York City. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council also announced a sock drive for rescue workers.

Mohawk ironworker Paul Angus requested the donations on behalf of union ironworkers in New York.

Swamp said he expected to recruit about 30 union members trained in hazardous materials work. He said he would draw not only on the Local 440 unit based in Akwesasne but on the main local hall in Utica and sister locals in Syracuse and Albany. 'We'll probably sign up four or five from each,' he said.

The Haz-mat team, he said, would consist of workers who had taken 'the 30-hour course we provide for members.'

He said the Ironworkers were coordinating with a New York City plan to reorganize the rescue. 'They're regrouping the rescue efforts,' he said. 'They're trying to get more organized about taking the steel off.' Up to now, 'Every Tom, Dick and Harry had a hand and they don't know what they are doing.'

Swamp said he was trying to arrange a bus and motel rooms for the team. Anyone able to help, he said, could call his direct line: (518) 358-4288.

The St. Regis Tribal Council called on the entire community to participate in the sock drive. Its announcement on Thursday said, 'Donations of men's work socks can be dropped off at the Tribal Food Distribution Center located behind the Tribal Community Building 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The Tribal Council will provide arrangements for a tractor-trailer to deliver the socks to the volunteers next week.'

The council said that in behalf of the Akwesasne community, it 'will continue to offer support and assistance to the thousands of volunteers in New York City who are committed to the overwhelming task of recovering and rebuilding.'