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Joe at TravelPage.com
I'll never forget how I woke up that morning to blazing sunshine and the most brilliant blue sky I had seen in a long time. The previous night we had heavy rains and severe thunderstorms in NYC and I was just amazed at what a beautifulday it was. I arrived at my office a bit late and headed inside and to the elevator banks. I must have been in the elevator when the first plane struck as I did not hear a thing. All I can remember is arriving in my office and seeingpaper flying everywhere outside the windows and thinking "what the heck is going on". No sooner than I had asked myself that question my boss walked in and he was ashen, he had just witnessed a jumper and the story started to unfold. At that point, security was telling us that we were much safer inside and to remainwhere we were as we were much safer inside than out.
My phone was going crazy now, ringing off the hook as colleagues and business partners from around the country started calling in to make sure I was OK and try and find out what was going on. While I was still trying to comprehend whatwas going on, I was on the phone with someone, someone who for the life of me I can't remember when I heard the roar of what I learned was a jet engine and then the most holacious explosion I have ever heard. Our entire building rockedlike an earthquake had struck or a bomb had gone off, a fireball appeared outside the window I was peering out of, people started screaming and thedebris outside was now going horizontal instead of vertical. Sirens and people were wailing everywhere. When that happened, all in the frame of a split second, I just screamed HOLY ---- !!!!! and slammed the phone down.
Still not knowing whether to evacuate or stay put, many of us desperately tried to seek news and information. The next hour was a blur as people started to evacuate, some quicker than others. I do remember that I was somewhat amazedthat I was able to get a line out to call my father and I left him a message on his answering machine assuring him that I was OK but I didnt know how soon I would be out but I would call him as soon as I could. I had just finsihedsaying "I love you" when I heard what sounded like the roar of a very low flying jet and then a loud, hissing "wooooossssshhhhh". Outside, everything went black and once again, our building shook violently, but this time youheard it creak & groan as it vibrated and jerked. The only thing I could equate it to was a nuclear explosion. Now everyone in the stairwells got into high gear but as we got to the lower floors, around 10 or so, smoke started to fill the stairwells so we were forced to retreat back up afew floors where we sought refuge, still not aware of what had just happened.
By the time we reached the lower floors, we happened upon a trading floor, where we sought refuge once again. The floor had banks of TV's and I remember the image broadcast from Liberty State Park; just a giant plume of smoke. Icouldnt make out the towers so I asked one of the young traders (poor kid, couldn't have been 23) why I coudlnt see the Towers and he turned to me and blurted out "they're ----ing gone dude, they're gone" at which point he collapsed on the floor convulsing in tears. (I later learned that his father worked in 2 WTC). As the crowds thinned out on the floor we realized that itwas time to go and we continued our trek downward through the maze of fire stairs and through a labyrinth of tunnels. We finally emerged into the smoke filled lobby and the Security Guards were screaming for us to just break and move as fast as we could for the river, not to stop until we hit the river.
Outside, the streets were covered in gray ash and paper and we started our silent march north. It was like we were thrown into some bizzare movie that was being filmed. We paired off in groups, many of us taking colleagues who livedoutside the city to our homes and apartments in the city. When I finally arrived home, I just could not comprehend what had happened, and still can not to this day. I wanted to believe that this was all a bad dream, but the imagesnow being broadcast were just too vivid and strangely enough, what finally broke me as it hit so close to home were the pictures of our HQ building; 20 something stories ripped open by 1 WTC's collapse, the ten story Winter Gardenvirtually destroyed with girders and debris amidst the giant palms. It just didnt seem real. I feared for many of my friends and colleagues, I feared for what might come next.
I had never been so scared in all my life and I finally experienced sheer, unadulterated terror for the first time. I just had to bury my head under my pillow and cry. All those lives wiped out so senselessly; a city sent reeling in shock. The Twin Towers were gone, the Pentagon had been attacked. It seemed the world was coming to an end, and I had just seen a large part of my day today life literally come crashing down around me.
One year later, what I find amazing is the resiliency of this great city and the people whocall it home. Here we are, but a year later and the city is rebounding like no one thought it would. Tens of thousands of workers have returned to the Financial District, small business are slowly re-opening and one week from now the WFC Winter Garden will officially re-open.
But one thing wont change, every time I look out on WTC from across the street on the 44th Floor, there's still a big hole in the ground. And There's an even bigger one in my heart.
God Bless America and God Bless all those lost and all those that still grieve for them. May they find comfort, strength and solace some day, some how.
My tablemate on QM2 in 06 had been rescued from the rubble.
Favor: Joe at Travelpage, when going through the old thread the voice at for a free whatever went off.
It is annoying at best and any lenght of time at CT the volume is muted. Please disable it for the WTC thread as it is an emotionally charged one and hearing it on that thread is really is beyond annoying.
In Miami Beach, that day, all the bars and liquor stores shut down, as Miami Beach went into mourning for 14 days. We lit candles and put them on the beach nightly, as satellites above photographed them from space, nightly.
I spent those two weeks in an internet cafe, talking and doing what I could to help from that far away. It was very sobering in many ways. Because if you drank, there was no alcohol to be had anywhere, on the beach side.
We all got sober for the duration.
After the 14 days were up, bar owners wanted to do anything to raise money for NYC. They opened the bars and clubs and liquor stores back up. And if you went to a bar or a club, and you donated money to NYC, you could drink the amount free in as much alcohol as you could consume, and then some.
There were a lot of drunk people all over the island drinking away their sorrows. I was one of them. We drank ever drop of alcohol from a radius of fifty miles in every direction. By the end of that run, there was no more alcohol, and it had to be re ordered again.
I got sober for good in December that year 2001, and moved to Montreal 4 months later.
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