I finally heard from someone I knew who was in the tower yesterday and felt like I should share...
First of all, know that I am sending out to all of you my most humble thanks and the biggest bear hug I can muster for the kind thoughts and prayers sent our City's way today... especially to Thrawn and who put it together via my email address that I am a resident of the Big Apple.
I don't even know where to begin, except to say I am truly one of the lucky ones... I am alive. I work in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Now that was a truly bizarre moment. As soon as I typed that sentence, I realized that I can no longer say that. I *worked* in the North Tower. Our tower is gone.
This time, last night, I was on the 25th floor of the North Tower (the second to fall), where I work third shift as a graphic designer for Merrill Lynch. The night's work was pretty much over, and we were just waiting around for the first shift to come in to start at 9. I was returning from the cafeteria with my oatmeal when there was this enormous boom. I can't really describe what happened next except to say that everything shook like a brief earthquake. The lights flickered and went out, coming back on
periodically. Emergency lights came on near the stairwells. I inched my way back along the walls to our offices to see if anyone knew what was happening. Security came on over the PA and simply said to evacuate the building in an orderly manner. That's when time seemed to stand still.
Even though the work day at Merrill doesn't technically start until 9, there were already plenty of people there. By the time we reached the elevators, the whole corridor was filled. I couldn't tell if they were working or not, but we were pretty far in line from the elevators, so even though there are six of them there, we weren't going anywhere for awhile. So, my boss grabbed me and a co-worker and shouted to everyone that we should take the stairs. I was surprised that many of the folks who were standing there didn't move, but I realized as we hit the stairwell that many of them (but not I) had lived through the bombing eight years ago. One of the ladies who was heading down the stairs with us said she hoped it didn't take as long to get down this time. Apparently, it had taken two hours then, but the
stairwell wasn't smokey and wet like it had been, she said.
We made it down to the ground level without much trouble, but by the time we were out of the building and in the plaza, the second plane had already hit and there were pieces of glass and concrete and the plane everywhere. People were running and shouting everywhere. I looked up, but the towers are so tall that I could only see a bit of fire and clouds of smoke like the tower was a chimney.
Initially, we ran over by the post office and watched as more NYPD and fire trucks pulled up. It wasn't really until then that I noticed there were people up and down the street on the sidewalks and in the plaza who were down and bleeding. People were streaming out of the towers, but most were thinking about getting clear of the building, so they didn't notice the people down either. So, rather than just stand there, my boss and three or four other guys (I don't even know their names) ran back across the street and either helped or carried people to get them over by the Millennium Hilton, where they were setting up a medical care area.
While we were running back and forth, it was like a nightmare. There was so much sound between sirens and crying and shouting and screaming and explosions that it was almost like there was no sound at all, like someone had pushed the mute button. It was like we were on the set of a war film. The plaza was covered with blood and concrete and tons of glass. In the
sun, it sparkled almost like water. Then I began to put it together as we ran back to find more hurt people and bent down to help them that some of them were dead. And I can't even put some of this into words... I don't know how, exactly... but there were parts of people and their remnants that barely still looked human. I guess they had either jumped or been blown out
of the building or fallen from the plane. I don't know which, but after the police started herding all the non-rescue workers away from the plaza, I could actually see people leap from near the top of the South Tower. I don't know why, though, there was no way they could've thought they'd survive the fall. Once we were standing there again, doing nothing but watching, I suddenly became aware that I felt completely numb, like I was sleeping while I was awake and actually walking around in my own dream. I don't know how else to describe it.
I walked down Fulton St. toward my church (Trinity), but there was a crush of humanity up and down Broadway, so I just stood there, a little more than a block from the WTC, feeling helpless and sad and lucky and concerned all at once. No one put it together until later that this was intentional, so I didn't know to feel rage. I wanted to still help, but the real rescue workers had their hands full, and we wondered if asking what we could do
would just be a distraction, so we ended up just standing there... literally thousands of us... just staring and shaking our heads and crying.
I honestly don't know how much time passed since it all seemed to happen in slow motion, but all of a sudden it looked like a piece of the South Tower was starting to fall off. Then, there was an enormous rumble and people just started screaming to run. I didn't realize that the tower had actually collapsed, I just saw this unbelievably huge gray cloud surging at us. I continued running down Fulton, toward the Brooklyn Bridge when the cloud
reached us. I don't know if I ran into it, or I was thrown into it, but I hit the table of a guy who was selling incense hard. Then it was like the day turned into night. I couldn't see anything. It would have been impossible to breathe if I hadn't hit that incense table, though, and pulled the table cloth off of it to cover my mouth and head.
While I was doing that, though, it started to rain dust and materials from the building all over us. I didn't even know until I made it over to the park by City Hall an hour later that I'd been cut on my arms and neck by glass (the outside of the towers was all glass) and had bled my white shirt completely red. At some point in the dust storm, I lost my backpack, which had not only all my personal papers and what not inside, but also my
checkbook and laptop. Who knows, maybe it'll still turn up... the least of my worries, though.
Not knowing where to go or what to do, I sat on the curb by the City Hall park. The lane of traffic on Broadway that was heading onto the Brooklyn Bridge was still moving, and a car stopped in front of me. A Jamaican lady (I don't know her name either) put down her window and told me and an older man behind me to get in the car. We did, and she said she was taking us to the hospital.
It was awhile before we got to St. Vincent's in the Village, but once we got there, there was a whole line up of people (literally 30 or 40 people) in doctor's scrubs standing outside. Someone took me inside immediately and looked at my cuts. I never got to say a word to the Jamaican lady, let alone thank you. Inside, they had to clean me off first, though, since I looked like I'd just had a bag of flour dumped on my head. It didn't take long to remove the glass shrapnel and get everything taken care of, and soon I was sitting in a chair in the waiting room, watching others being taken in and taken care of. You truly couldn't imagine how unbelievable these cops and firemen and doctors and nurses are. I swear to God: I will never give another cop a hard time as long as I live.
Anyway, I didn't leave the hospital until almost 3 pm (and they would've kept me if they hadn't needed the beds for people more seriously hurt), when I started the long walk home. The streets were almost completely free of all traffic except for emergency vehicles, and the subways, bridges and tunnels had all been shut down. So, I walked from 14th St. up to the 59th St. Bridge, and was then able to get a taxi on the other side, in Queens, to
take back to my apartment. New York was like a zombie town. Everyone was crying or standing and staring or walking around in a daze, long lines in front of pay phones.
When I got home, I called my family (when I could get a line out) to let them know I was okay. Of course, by 6:30, they had whipped themselves into a hysteria since 8 am. The remainder of the time between 6:30 and 10 was spent on the phone with other friends, both telling them I'm fine and trying to find out what happened to other folks at Merrill. I know my boss made it
out, even though I didn't see him after we were standing by each other at the post office, but God only knows about the rest. I'm sure it'll be days before we know everything for sure. Right now, there are more than 10 people I work with that I can't account for.
Anyway, I showered and tried to settle down. I drift off to sleep
occasionally, but as you can tell from the time I'm sending this (5 am), I don't stay asleep for long. When I had enough of NBC and CNN reporting the same things over and over (although that tape of the Palestinians celebrating on the West Bank STILL makes my blood boil; I've never been more pro-Israeli), I decided to get online. I had 78! emails waiting for me from various friends (including yourselves), so I'm busy replying.
To tell you the truth, I don't know why I've written this whole long account of what happened. You've probably all had your fill of this by now too. I know it has nothing to do with the US Community and most of you don't even know me except from the occasional posting. But maybe it's just my way to vent. I don't know. Whatever the case, just in case I never have the
opportunity to say it again, thank you for your prayers, thank you for your kind thoughts, and thank you for having me as a member of your community. I'm proud to call you family.