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World Trade Center restaurant issues final paychecks

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Family members of restaurant workers killed or missing in last week's attacks on the World Trade Center picked up their relatives' final paychecks Friday, not knowing where their loved ones are, not sure how they will make ends meet.

"We have a mortgage we have to pay," said Roxanne Nedd, whose husband Jerome, 39, was a cook at Windows on the World, a luxury restaurant known for its spectacular views from the 106th floor of one of the towers. "I have two children that I'm supporting. We had two incomes, and all of a sudden we've become a one-income house."

Jerome Nedd was one of 79 people working at the restaurant when a plane tore through the building, causing it to collapse.

None of the workers has been found alive.

At least 44 of them were members of Local 100 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant International Union, which represents 6,000 New York food and beverage service workers.

Union leaders offered counseling and other assistance Friday to the victims' families, many of whom are struggling with financial and emotional burdens.

Family members were also given details about their missing relatives' life insurance and Social Security benefits.

Most of the restaurant's employees were immigrants and their families' lone financial supporters, said Bill Granfield, secretary and treasurer of Local 100.

Although many had life insurance, the company's policy for food service workers was limited to $10,000 general coverage and $5,000 for accidental death coverage.

"It's not going to go a long way," Roxanne Nedd said.

Elizabeth Rivas, whose husband Moises, 29, is among the missing restaurant workers, said she doesn't know how she will support her five children, ages 23 months to 19 years.

"He was the support, he was always there for me," she said. "I think I will go back to work, but I don't want to leave my babies."

The fallout from the attacks has shaken the city's entire restaurant and entertainment industry.Tourism is down, and that has cut deeply into restaurant and hotel business.

Walter Flores was scheduled to work the afternoon shift September 11 as a server at the restaurant, where he had worked for 1.5 years. He is one of the restaurant's 230 workers who lost their jobs when the building collapsed and who picked up their last paychecks Friday.

"I have my son, and I just put him in a new school," he said. "Just got a new apartment. Right now I think I'm still in a state of shock."

Flores said he has been looking for work at other restaurants, but no one is hiring.

Others, including Howard Condyles of Hudson Valley, New York, got the same reception.

"Financially, at the moment, I'm OK," he said, but added that others are not so lucky. "Some people were really making very little money. They have nothing right now."

Local 100 has organized a fund to assist its members and their families.

Donations can be sent to the Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees New York Assistance Fund, at 321 West 44th Street, 5th Floor, New York, N.Y., 10036.

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