I was helpless

Date Submitted: 09/03/2002
Author Info: Ryan (Hoboken, NJ - USA) 
Occupation: Accounting/Finance
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: No
Knew someone who perished?: Yes

Author’s Note: Names have been altered to protect privacy.

I had recently (Aug 31) moved my office from downtown NYC across the Hudson to Jersey City. I was not a fan of the move because I regularly and still have meetings downtown. I would take the PATH (subway) from Jersey to the basement of the WTC. I was headed out to a meeting when my phone lit up. I assumed there was a problem with our trading system.

I answered the phone and it was my ex-girlfriend. She was crying and said “Can you see the twin towers?” I responded why? I turned around to see the smoke coming out of the tower. She asked do “we know any one in there?” I said I was with our friends Jerry and Jim last night (Giants Monday night opener). We were all very drunk and said I am sure they were not in the office yet. I put her on hold and picked up the next line. Brad called and said do you see what the hell is going on? (Brad worked down town on a trading desk.) he asked me if Jerry or Jim were in there. I said I’ll call you back. We hung up. I then called Jerry it went right to voice mail. Then called Jim the same thing. I told my ex to call Jerry’s girlfriend to see if she new anything.

The second plane hit and I could hear the explosion across the mile wide river. Now panic set in. I called my friend matt (investment banker who worked At 55 Broadway 2 blocks from the WTC). He said the vibrations shook the building. He informed me he was leaving. I then called Brian back and got another trader his only words were ” Dude we are out of here.” and he hung up. By this time we were talking about our evacuation. I was called into an emergency meeting. We gathered our contingency plans and began an evacuation. My ex called and informed me that the boys were ok. Jerry had over slept and no surprise by how much he drank. Jim was down stairs getting a bagel when the second plane hit. We moved everyone off the trading desks and out side. I was the last to leave. by this time the first tower had fallen.

I got outside in time to watch the second tower fall. It was so disturbing. Now we had over 500 people from our complex with no place to go. No public transpiration and no way back to Manhattan or the Island. I decided to take as many people as would come back to my brownstone in Hoboken. I started walking with 30 people. We walked through Jersey City and to my place picking people up who looked lost or shaken up. we ended up with 50 people. we bought food water and all sorts of stuff, just in case we were there for a while. We sat glued to the TV and felt helpless. I tried to make calls but kept getting busy signals. Friends stopped buy and my immediate circle was accounted for but I knew that people were lost. It was an awful feeling. Public transportation opened at about 8:00PM. All 50 people fled my house for their own home. I went with some friends to our local pub. There we met were so happy to see friends. We hugged each other and started crying. This went on for the next 2 nights.

I remember feeling This is what it must feel like to live in Israel or Northern Ireland. I had no clue what was going to happen next. I still can feel that feeling when I write this. On the 12th I left my apt at 7:30 am and the streets were crowded. I guess no one else could sleep either. I bought flowers and brought them to Frank Sinatra park. The park jets out into the Hudson and you could see a clear shot of lower Manhattan. I went to the top right hand corner closest point to where the WTC used to stand. and laid the flowers down. I was the second set of flowers there. I went back about 2 day’s later and not only the corner was covered in flowers, there were candles paintings and signs. It was truly amazing to see everyone had the same idea.

The worst was the first couple of days back at work. I dreaded the phone. Sure enough 3 friends from high school, 2 parents of friends, and 3 people I knew from Hoboken. Each time I got a call I was speechless. I only wish I was there and could have helped someone.


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