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Surviving NYC
by trancerjones: 09-11-2001

Hello Everyone,

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 of relief.

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,
trancerjones

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