Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 7 News List

9/11 prompted some New Yorkers to move for new lives


It was initially a challenge for the Koveleskis’ children to be the new, mixed-race kids — Michael is white, while Margery has Haitian heritage — in an area less diverse than Queens.

Michael struggled to find work in the shaky post-9/11 economy.

He found it by founding his own business, Design Sleep, which sells natural latex mattresses and platform beds. It is now in its 14th year.

“You’re only going to change your life when things are bad — or terrible,” Michael said. “I am thrilled at the way it came out.”


Heather and Tom LaGarde loved New York and didn’t want to leave, even after she watched the twin towers burn from their rooftop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

However, over time, “we were very unmoored by 9/11,” Heather said. “Even though I wasn’t physically harmed, just to see it that close changes your perspective… Your priorities change.”

It felt harder and harder to stay in New York.

Their nonprofit work — hers in human rights, his running a roller basketball program for neighborhood kids he had founded after playing for the Denver Nuggets and other NBA teams — depended on fundraising that lagged in the rocky economy after the attacks.

Friends moved away.

At first, the ramshackle North Carolina farm they spotted online in 2002 was only going to be an occasional getaway, but in 2004, the LaGardes moved into the farm near small-town Saxapahaw with two children, a few months’ consulting work for Heather and no plan beyond that.

Having no plan evolved into starting an architectural salvage company; a popular free music series and farmers’ market; a humanitarian innovation conference; and the Haw River Ballroom, a music venue in an old mill the couple helped renovate.

“We try to echo some of what we loved” in New York, Heather said, “but living in an easier, simpler, more natural place.”


Georgios Takos rides through northern Wyoming in the Greek Station, his food truck, with a souvenir New York license plate on the wall.

It is a reminder of the place he once thought would bring his American dream to life.

Growing up in Greece’s northern Kastoria region, Takos longed to live in the US he saw in movies. He was elated to get to New York City in 1986.

There were tears in his eyes as he left 15 years later, days after 9/11 shattered his sense of safety and the city. He headed for restaurant work in Arizona, then California, where he met his wife, Karine, a teacher.

On a visit to her home state of Montana, he found the wide-open America that he had imagined. The couple moved to Powell, Wyoming.

Takos still appreciates what New York taught him about working hard.

However, by leaving it, “I now have found what I was looking for,” he said. “Freedom, my country, my home.”

This story has been viewed 1689 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top