Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 seemed like an almost normal day. I woke up around 5:30AM. My usual. I showered, brushed my teeth, and put on my work clothes. At 5:45 I woke up my two children, Samantha and Jack. I made breakfast and their lunches for school. At 6:00 I realized I was running late. At 6:15 I dropped them off at a neighbor’s house and drove to the Bay Shore Train station. I arrived at Pennsylvania Station around 7:30. I then took the subway to WTC Cortland, where I met Dave, my co-worker, for breakfast. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
“How are the divorce papers coming along?” Dave asked.
“How’s the kids holding up?”
“They’re actually doing great. They still get to see their father.”
“That’s great, how’s Michael?”
“He’s fine, he moved to Jersey,” I responded.
“How are you?” I asked
“I’m doing ok.”
“Oh. that’s great,”
“Oh man we should clock in, you know how Jeff is,” Dave said as he rolled his eyes.
“You’re right, see you for lunch?”
I got to my desk on the 93rd floor of the North Tower at 8:30. Around 8:40, I called my neighbor and told her thank you for watching the kids. Around 8:45, I heard a muffled plane engine. I looked around to see where the noise was coming from. Seconds after, an explosion.
“What was that?”
“I Don’t know, maybe a mistake somewhere. You know maybe someone’s oatmeal exploded in the microwave.”
“Sounded like a bomb.”
It was as if someone set off a bomb out of nowhere, almost like the one in ‘93. The office began to fill up with smoke. The next thing I knew my office was on fire. I turned on the office TV. ABC was on. Eyewitness News showed the North Tower being hit. I then began to get really nervous. My phone rang and I answered it; my daughter was crying.
“Mommy are you ok?”
I told her I was ok and that I loved her. Soon after the plane hit, people began jumping out of the windows. The company I worked for, Marsh and Mclennan, was the zone of impact and was extremely damaged. Many in my office jumped. On the 92nd floor no one survived.
At 9:03, I heard my coworkers screaming, I turned around and saw United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the South Tower, or Two World Trade Center. I noticed the smoke growing thicker. I instantly grabbed the telephone and dialed 9-1-1.
“Hello. May I help you,”
“Yes I’m stuck on the 93th floor of One World Trade Center, please send someone,” I spoke in a panicked voice.
“We’re doing everything we can, we’re sending emergency services as we speak.”
“Please hurry, it’s too much smoke,”
I began to inhale so much it became unbearable. I opened the window to let some air in, but that didn’t help. I locked eyes with a person a few floors above. I could see them dangling out the window. Then they let go. I watched them fall 70+ stories to their death.
I looked up and saw the ceiling caving in. The impact of the plane destroyed everything in its path.
“We have to get out of here!”
“There’s no way out. We need to jump!”
“We are way too high up. I’m not jumping!”
“There’s no other choice. They’re leaving us up here to die. The exits are blocked.”
“We’ll either find a way, or the police and firefighters will come and get us,”
“By then it’ll be too late!”
My heart sank when I saw my coworker jump out of the window. I knew I had to get out. We searched our office for anything but found nothing. Doors were jammed shut, we were trapped on all sides. As time passed I grew more and more anxious. I saw a helicopter circling the building and walked toward the window. I looked down and felt like letting go. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to get out. The elevators were destroyed. The nearest stairway was “B.”
“The stairs!” I yelled to my remaining coworkers and motioned toward the stairs. The entrance to the stairs was blockaded. A few of us pushed the piece of wall out the way and descended down the stairs. The stairway was partially destroyed. Smoke and flames were all around us.
“It’s too dangerous. I’m going to find another way. Maybe there’s a way on the 92nd floor.”
Our group was split into two. My group continued to descend. My co-worker Dave’s group ascended back up the stairs.
I looked at my watch. 9:41AM. We made it to Bank of America. As we descended further down, we were met with policemen and firemen.
“We have civilians. We’re sending them down,”.
We took a working elevator down to the lobby. The lobby was full of emergency services and workers. I looked around to see if Dave made it down. I realized he did not.
“Excuse me, some co-workers did not make it down.”
“Don’t worry we’re sending people up. Just worry about getting out safely.”
At that moment we heard a loud rumble. The floor began to shake. I looked out one of the large windows and saw the South Tower collapsing. I ran as fast as possible. A group of five and I ran to an elevator shaft. It was dead silence. I could hear the thoughts of others echoing in my head. Am I going to die?
The earth continued to shake. When I felt like it was safe enough, I exited the building and stumbled into the street. I looked up at the North Tower standing as it stood still amongst nothing but dust. The lobby was almost empty. A few policemen evacuated the lobby. Once again the ground started to shake. At 10:28, the North Tower succumbed to the damage it sustained and collapsed.
Without even knowing I ran. I looked back and saw dust and debris.
I was eventually engulfed in dust. I hid in a nearby store, with others. Everything was covered in sut.
“Anybody need water?”
I rubbed my face with water over and over, then I gave some to a guy next to me. Dust began seeping through the door frame. I Couldn’t believe what was happening.
“We need to evacuate!”
We exited the building and onto the street. The sky was orange and the ground covered in papers, debris and dust. I could hear the eerie sound of firefighters’ PASS devices going off. I saw burnt and destroyed cars. The streets were crowded with onlookers. I tried to call my kids, but my phone wasn’t working. Authorities hurried us away from the area. Once I made it to the Brooklyn Bridge I looked back. WTC was gone. People were crying and holding onto one another. Some hugged me.
I thought of Dave and realized he didn’t make it out in time. I thought of all the people who were trapped inside, with no way of escape. That evening I was reunited with my family. I hugged my children tight. I was so glad to be with them. I knew other children like them wouldn’t be so lucky.
The Eleven O’clock came on. Up until that moment, I really didn’t know what actually happened that day. A total of 19 terrorists entered the country and hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93. Then they crashed them into WTC, and the Pentagon. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. 2,977 people died that day, but countless others were forever affected by the events of that day.
* Image via Google Images under the Creative Commons license