I was working for Aon Consulting on the 101st Floor of 2 WTC. I was fortunate enough to be in the 2nd tower hit…and smart enough to follow my instincts and get out of the building – (I ran to the stairwell and ran down 101 flights of stairs)…even when an announcement said: “We have a situation in Tower 1 – Tower 1 was struck by an airplane. Building 2 is secure so please return to your desks.” 2 minutes after this announcement, our building started rumbling and there was a muffled expolsion sound. I was thrown to the wall – others fell down the stairs. Some assumed the plane that hit Tower 1 exploded – so did I.
Later I realized that I must have gotten down way below the 78th floor (in 15 or so minutes)where the plane hit or I would not have lived through the impact on our building… Even after that, in my opinion, the group of people I was around in the stairwell believed that the situation was not serious. People rested on the landings and walked down slowly (of course we couldn’t have known then that the entire world was watching the building we were in)I didn’t feel especially panicked…I just had this overwhelming sense to get out and away from the buildings…I don’t know how – if you see fire shooting past the 101st floor of a building you ARE IN – that you could think otherwise!! An interesting fact that I’ve NEVER heard anywhere else: There were times that I went around and around in the stairwell BY MYSELF. MANY FLIGHTS. I recall the moment that I knew it was bad when at about the 30th floor a guy ran past me and he had burn marks and blood on his t-shirt
…he said “this ain’t good”. Then at about the 20th or 15th floor I started to smell smoke and gas or chemically-type smells. And that was when I saw the one & only fireman pass me in the stairwell – going up. Then a guy ran past me on a cellphone and I heard him say “A plane hit OUR building too!!?” I get to the lower level – finally got out of the building and at ground-level. I stopped and looked up. I was standing right next to Tower 1 – there wasn’t the debris falling yet that everyone saw on tv – it was sparkly dust floating all around – there were chunks of metal & brick on the ground in various places…I saw a few pools of blood…I moved to get a view of both towers and just stood there for a moment to absorb what was going on. Next to the sight of flames shooting past my window and bright blue sky above that, the sight of being directly under the towers and both were on fire is something I STILL see every night when I close my eyes.
The next thought was to get away from the building quickly. I ran to the South Street Seaport and when I got to the courtyard there I began to learn what was happening – I was in shock as one man told me he saw a regular airline plane hit the building and people falling from it!! Then I heard two women telling someone else that it was hijacked planes and one hit the Pentagon and there were more… Every time I heard a plane overhead then I was scared to death. I went up to McManeman’s in the Seaport to try to use a payphone and was there -maybe 20 minutes when we heard yet another rumbling sound and someone from the balcony screamed: “The Tower is falling down!!! We better get out of here it’s coming right for us!!!” Exhausted, we run out & away from the Seaport – along the East River in case the debris & smoke overtook us – we’d jump in. But remarkably, a breeze was blowing towards us and everytime I looked behind me – the huge cloud stayed 10 or 15 blocks behind us. I ran to a friends house – I had two survivor “buddies” with me…we needed to rest – none of us lived anywhere close by. We stopped for a while – long enough to see the image of the planes striking the buildings over & over again.
We went to a restaurant and sat for hours there – it was packed…and silent…everyone watching the news on the tv there. We told our story to some of the people around us…nobody could believe it. I have no family in NYC and my boyfriend was in Florida as his father had died on the 6th. No phones were working – it was past noon EST before anyone knew I’d made it out and late afternoon before I could talk to any loved ones…I have a “visitors pass” card with my name and picture that says Aon 101st Floor 9/11/01. I carry it everywhere…too embellish my story or to prove it to myself sometimes. It has been a hard year. I’ve fought nightmares, depression, I guess Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Survivor Guilt (4 people that worked right next to me died-i remember seeing them all that morning)it is August 28, 2002 and I feel like I’m just now coming out of it. I remember and forget everyday. It will be with me forever.