I arrived for work at 7AM as always. A beautiful day. The building is on South Street, a block south of Wall. Sitting at my desk, I noticed out of the corner of my eye something floating in the air in the street between our building and the one next door. I thought for a second, “Snow, can’t be it was 80 degrees when I came in.” I went to the window and saw paper floating in the air. I said to a friend, they must be having a ticker tape parade. He told me, that a plane had crashed into the Trade Center. I went to the trading floor to check the TV’s, all set to CNN. I saw a picture of the trade center burning and then saw the second plane hit. At that instant, the head trader announced, ‘Shut down, get out of here!’ An enormous statement for him to make. I later learned he had known over a dozen people killed.
Next an announcement came over the PA to evacuate the building. I ran around shutting down systems, and decided to shut off the Internet connection in case the next wave was to start hacking at the network.
I got downstairs, and after milling around for a couple of minutes, decided to head home. I walked down South Street to the SI Ferry. People were crying, and staggering, not watching where they were going.
I got to the Ferry terminal, I must have just missed a boat. Waiting around, a guy had a black Ford Explorer with the radio on to a news station for everyone to hear. We stood listening to the reports about the Pentagon, Pennsylvania… Cell phones didn’t work. Someone mentioned that there would be tens of thousands a families affected by this.
A boat pulled in, and I decided to wait for the crowds to thin out before boarding. It still didn’t seem to be a crisis. (Stupid New Yorker attitude, I guess.) I heard a loud rumble and assumed part of the building had fallen off. I looked up Battery Park, and saw people running for their lives down Broadway . It looked like a scene from the movie Independance Day. Chasing them was an enormous cloud of dust. I decided then not to wait anymore, to get my butt onto the boat. (Almost sounds funny now, but didn’t at the time, and still doesn’t.)
The boat was getting packed, people wearing life preservers, and very nervous.
All of a sudden there were shouts, and people started closing the doors and windows. The cloud enveloped the ferry, you couldn’t see the wood of the slip, 3 feet away.
The boat finally left the dock, the fastest departure I’ve ever felt in over 20 years of taking it. I remember thinking thank God the boat has radar, because you couldn’t see a thing from the bottom deck where I was.
It seemed to stay that way until we started to pass the Statue of Liberty, then cleared. People went onto the back deck to see what was happening, then we heard another loud rumble.
People went to look and came back to say both towers had fallen. Unbelievable.
We arrived back in St. George and tied up. I decided to take a quick look off the back of the boat, and a man passed me making the sign of the cross. That made me choke up.
All I could see was smoke, trailing for miles across Brooklyn and Long Island.
I left the boat and my cell phone started beeping about voicemails. My sisters had been frantically trying to reach me. I called one back and as I stood in the parking lot, looked back towards the city. There’s a direct view towards where the towers were. I broke down on the phone, saying. ‘They’re gone, just not there anymore!’
I later found out about 7 people I had known that were killed. None were close, but I knew them. I also heard several stories of people who had barely escaped.
A few days later, back at work, I had been out for a walk, walking in a daze, and my sister called me on my cell phone. I happened to be standing on Maiden Lane and Nassau Street. I answered the phone and, not realizing where I was, looked, and saw the ‘Hand’ poking from the ground a block away. It left quite a mark.