I remember this day as if it were yesterday. It was a gorgeous day as I got off the Staten Island Ferry. It was approximately 8:45 a.m. As I crossed the street, a police car came flying off the FDR Drive with his lights on and missed hitting me by inches. I stopped and wondered where they could be headed to be driving like that. As I proceeded up Water St. I noticed what appeared to be confetti in the sky. As I neared Wall St., I looked down at what was falling and noticed the edges were burned. It was company letterhead from the WTC. As I entered my building and walked towards the elevators, I noticed a commotion in front of my building on Maiden Lane. I walked right past my elevator bank and out the door to see what everyone was looking at. I turned around to see a building on fire. At first, I didn’t even realize it was the WTC. I heard people saying a plane had hit the building.
I thought to myself, “how could a plane not see that building?”. After watching for a few minutes, I went back in my building to get on the elevator when a huge explosion rocked the building. People starting screaming and crying that they were blowing up Manhattan. Some started heading home right away. I decided to go up to my office to see what was going on. Everyone was in the conference room watching the television. It turned out the explosion I heard and felt was the second plane hitting the other WTC building.
All I could think about was where my husband was. As an electrician, he works all over Manhattan. I tried to call him several times on his cellphone but couldn’t get through. The phone lines were a mess. We were getting calls coming through on our lines for other companies, asking us about people they knew who worked in the WTC, yet people trying to call our lines couldn’t get through. Other employees came in crying and emotionally upset, saying they saw the plane hit the building. A few said they were shoved by the police into the Marriott Hotel as they attempted to exit the WTC after getting off the train.
When the building collapsed, our entire floor started to smell of smoke and gray, smoky dust started coming in the windows. Within minutes of the building collapse, I looked out the window and all of downtown looked like a major snow storm had blanketed the area, with people covered in gray ash.
While away from my desk, I came back to find a message on my voicemail from my husband, saying he was in front of the WTC, setting up an emergency phone system. This message was left before the building collapsed. Now I was worried sick if he got out of there in time. He finally called about an hour later to say he was alright. Later that day, I would find out he had quite a tale to tell and was very lucky to be alive.
It turned out he was working right across the street from where the probationary fireman were doing their training that morning, (this was one of the videotapes played on TV which shows the plane hitting the building). His company sent him and his partner to the WTC to set up emergency phone lines, not realizing how bad it was. As he was standing there, he saw people jumping and falling from the windows. He was standing right next to the mayor, FBI agents and a bunch of firemen, including the chaplain who later died, when the second plane hit. He dove under his truck, along with a few of the FBI guys. He had watched those firemen go into the building, and later found out they never got out. AS the building collapsed, the FBI guy grabbed him and they ran up Broadway. His company truck was now buried so him and his parnter had to walk many miles into Brooklyn to get back to their shop.
Meanwhile, I waited for the SI Ferry to resume service and I headed home about 1:00. I waited a while for the boat to leave since this was one of the ways the city was transporting injured people out of Manhattan. I stood at the back of the boat and as we pulled away, looking at this great metropolis in a ball of fire and smoke. I couldn’t help but feel sad for the people who, like me, thought this was going to be another ordinary day of life in New York City. For over 2,800 people, it was their last.
Thankfully, no one I knew perished that day, and my husband, although his ankle was swollen and sprained while running away from the falling towers, made it home about an hour after me.