Light at the end of the tunnel
Local man begins to find peace after nightmare of 9/11
By Kathy Manetti
For many Americans, every day since September 11, 2001 has been a struggle just to simply get out of bed and trudge along in the normal rhythm of life. What happened that day marred our vision of a safe and sane world, and life as we knew it, would never be the same.
Jeff Seide of Weston has certainly had his share of nightmares, since that fateful morning, when he sat at his desk atop the 84th floor of WTC 2. “I just knew,” stated Mr. Seide, recalling his instinctive reaction to leave the building after the first plane had struck tower 1. “Having been a 1993 Trade Center veteran, I just knew this was very serious and so I just yelled for everybody to get out.”
An employee of Tradesoft / Euro Brokers, a Bond Brokerage company that lost 61 employees that day, Jeff rallied many of his coworkers to leave the building.
“I was eye level with the explosion in Tower 1, the wall was engulfed with flames. Black smoke and debris billowed out of the building. I knew I had to get out of there. There were others that weren’t so sure.”
As Mr. Seide and a large number of fellow workers streamed down the stairwell, fear seemed to grip their every move. More and more people seemed to have received that same instinctive message and poured into the stairwell for escape.
“When I was on or about the 35th floor, there was a second blast,” said Mr. Seide. “This time, the building shook, and the lights dimmed for awhile.” Little did he know that at this time, his entire office building (floors 79-84) had been seared through by the second plane.
What ensued for the next few hours was a daze of smoke, primal fear, and a close up view of death. After being directed uptown for a few minutes, he decided to retrace his steps and head back to retrieve his car that was in parked in the Battery Garage. As he attempted to escape, he soon noticed that all the roads were closed and traffic was at a standstill.
“As I was standing outside of my car gazing at the burning towers I suddenly heard a bang. It was the tower collapsing. The sound was shocking. Like a deck of cards, I watched floor after floor as if in slow-motion falling to the ground.”
People were running and screaming as an enormous black cloud enveloped the entire financial district.
“I recall thinking that I was testing fate for the second time that day. Like the others, I darted into the park, briefly ducking behind a tree and hoping that I wouldn’t be a victim of flying glass, much like the body I stepped over just minutes before.”
As the cloud of black smoke encircled him, he found himself running toward the water, among a sea of hysterical people struggling for their lives. Finding a resting spot for his trembling legs, he waited for what seemed like hours until he saw a spot of sun in the black sky and he knew that the wind was drafting the cloud out to sea. This encouraged him onward, back into his car. Hours later, he was in the arms of his loving family.
Unsure of the number of lives that he helped to save that day, Mr. Seide is certain of only one thing… it was his faith that has helped him to deal with the horrific pain that came from experiencing such devastation.
“It’s all about faith. I don’t know how anyone can get through something like this without God.”
He encourages people to stop and listen. “This was our wake-up call. Regardless of your religion/denomination, it’s essential to benefit from this disaster and renew ones devotion.”
< A humble hero>
Heralded a hero by those whose lives he saved through his quick thinking and proactive resolve to leave Mr. Seide was most touched by his wife Cindi and their four children, whose view of that day was very clear. Chad, the oldest, sent him a special message that he read at the service.
“Dad, last year I almost lost you. Before the 11th I never even thought of something like that happening. Within moments my life changed. You are a hero. You have shown more strength that I can ever have, and I hope that one day I can be like you. You have a family that loves and cares about you more than you can imagine. Today is not only a day of reflection, but a day to remember how fragile life is. I am grateful to have a family that cares. My love for you all surpasses words. I am 3000 miles away, but you are always on my mind”
Mr. Seide proudly wears the company shirt that displays the names of the 61 employees that were not so fortunate. His own personal pain mixes with the loss of these men and women.
“It is a crushing loss, and for what?”
A special relief fund has been established for the families of these lost employees. Mr. Seide is hopeful that these families will receive the financial compensation that they need. Donations can be made by logging onto http://relief.ebi.com .
A year has since passed, and the memories still haunt him, yet through the support of his family and a faith that seems to ease his burdens, Jeff is beginning to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been tough, but I am getting there. We all will get there. Just give it time and a lot of prayer, and I know WE will be alright.”