If I haven't talked to you or e-mailed you - I'm OK. Still in a
state of shock and total disbelief though. The following is my account
of the events that took place on 09/11/01 in New York City:
I had to work this morning at 8am. I rode the subway, like usual,
into Manhattan without any idea of what was to come. I was working
at the Variety Arts Theatre on 3rd Avenue and 14th Street. A co-worker
came in at 9am to say a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center
and one of the buildings was on fire. We were shocked.
From the street outside the theatre we could see the smoke but
not the building. We then got news in bits a pieces for the next
hour. Another plane hits the other tower, and then the Pentagon.
Then we heard that the first tower had collapsed. I was immediately
worried about my close friend's mother who i knew worked in the
WTC. My cell was getting no service so I
called and left messages from the lobby payphone. I then walked
4 blocks west to Union Square, where he works, to see if he was
there. As I approached his building, the emaining tower came into
view looking south down Broadway, with a gaping black hole in the
top and gray smoke billowing out.
My friend was not in his office and as I left the building I heard
someone say that the terrorists had bombed the Supreme Court. This
made me completely frantic since my mother works a few blocks from
there, so I started to run back to the theatre to look for a phone.
But as I again passed Broadway, I paused in crowd of hundreds facing
downtown towards the
smoldering building and watched in shock and horror as the second
tower collapsed into a shimmering, billowing cloud of smoke and
debris. I can't describe the thoughts and emotions running through
my mind at that exact moment, knowing that I was watching, with
my own eyes, thousands of people die.
I nearly ran back to the theatre and began a search for a working
phone with long distance service. They let me into the box office
and I tried over and over to get a dial tone. I finally got through
and I will never forget the feeling of relief and joy I had to hear
my mother's voice on the other end of the phone. I've never felt
that before, and I hope never again.
I then called my friend who said his mother does work at the WTC
and that she had gone to work this morning. He hadn't heard anything
and had no idea whether she was involved or not. I got off the phone
with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I couldn't stop
imagining what he was going through.
I stayed at the theatre until 1pm when I decided I just couldn't
stay there any longer. The subways and all bridges and tunnels were
closed except for pedestrians. I resolved to walk back to Brooklyn
via the Williamsburg Bridge which is a few blocks south of Houston.
As I walked south on 3rd Avenue, it was a strange sight. The cloud
of smoke was huge. Southbound traffic was being diverted anywhere
but south, so I walked in the middle of the street and saw the line
of northbound cars stretch as far as I could see. Some of the cars
were covered in soot. There
were tons of people walking on the sidewalks and streets. I kept
checking my cell over and over, but nothing.
I then remembered that a friend lives in the East Village, so stopped
in to see her. I was so worried about my friend and his mother,
I broke down. But thankfully, I got the message that his mom was
OK. She had come up out of the subway at the WTC to find chaos and
just started running, and took cover in a nearby building. She was
then evacuated to the Brooklyn Bridge and was OK and walking down
4th Aveunue in Brooklyn towards her home. Again, an immense sense
I then tried to get in touch with all my friends - all of which
are safe, I'm happy to say - but cell phones and even landlines
were intermittent and busy, including the blood donor hotline. By
then the news reported the partial restoration of subway service,
so I headed up to 14th Street and 1st Avenue
where I took the train one stop out to Brooklyn.
The rest of the day and night was so surreal. I got out of the
subway in Brooklyn and started walking home to find everyone in
a state of shock. There was an eerie calm and quiet over the entire
neighboorhood and I could see the same emotions in all the faces.
At 3pm on a Tuesday, people were wandering around aimlessly like
it was Sunday. I got home and managed to get through to the rest
of my friends on the phone.
I grabbed my camera and headed towards the East River to look at
the skyline. In the background a bell began to toll, from a church
or synagogue, and continued its hollow, ominous sound for the next
hour mixing in with the sound of sirens. As I approached the park
by the river, the space in the sky
where the Twin Towers once stood swung into view. The smoke was
still billowing from the site and continued to do so long into the
night. There must have been 50 or 60 people at that park. All watching
and thinking their impossible thoughts. I was floored to see the
obliterated skyline - it looked like lower Manhattan had completely
disappeared. I sat and took
photos for the next 2-3 hours as the sun set behind the tragedy
and backlit the only cloud in the sky today. As the sirens continued,
I could make out ambulances and emergency vehicles racing up and
down the FDR highway along the east side of Manhattan as the water
lapped at the rocks at my feet.
Everyone I talked to could not believe what were seeing. So many
people lost, so many emotionally devastated. Not one person would
escape without knowing someone who died today. I saw a couple of
people verbally attacking each other. One was Puerto Rican man condemning
a Hassidic Jew, saying, "Israel. You, Isreal. Jew. Arabs. Always
fighting."For the most part people seemed to band together
as New Yorkers and fellow humans, consoling each other - even complete
strangers. Another man I talked to said simply, "I feel like
they bombed my house. I feel like they bombed my backyard."
The greatest irony was that the day was picture perfect. The most
beautiful, crisp September day that you could imagine. Perfect temperature
and not a cloud in the sky.
This is absolutely the most horrifying event I've ever seen and
I still can't believe that I saw it with my own eyes. It's like
a movie or rather a nightmare, but we're not asleep, we can't wake
up. My heart goes out to all of those affected by this. Who knows
what is to follow? I plan to donate blood as soon as possible.
Know that I am OK. I have my family and my friends to support me
and that means more to me than anything else. Please know that I
care so very deeply for you all and I am thinking of you.
My very best,