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Sunday, September 11, 2011
9/11 - One Man's Escape
To be honest, I have never really been sure if I was fortunate to miss the news reports that night or not. It was highly unusual that I was in bed before 10.30pm when Sandra Sully read the late news on Channel 10. Part of me wishes I had watched the events unfold - I'm not sure why - and part of me is glad I didn't.
Hubby was away in London for work at the time. He had left New York just two days prior to the attacks, and I recall, after hearing the news, immediately wanting him to return home. He felt a quick retreat from London was unnecessary. At the time it was thought London might be the next under attack, and a number of executives at the office where I worked hastily cancelled a trip there due in a few days after the attacks occurred. (Hubby ended up flying home earlier than planned, although not really because of 9/11. A few months later, I would find a boarding pass of Hubby's with the same flight number and route as one of the planes that crashed that day, kept from a previous trip of his.)
The morning after the attacks, on September 12, I arrived at work to find an email from a staff member of the bank I worked for at the time. He was based in the New York office and had sent an email to the entire company.
He was in the World Trade Centre when the first plane hit.
The following is my recollection of the email...
He wrote that he was attending a conference - either on the same floor as the lobby, or one floor below (I can't remember which one), when he and the other conference members suddenly felt the impact of the first plane. He described how the building shook. Of course, at the time, they had no idea it was a plane that had hit the North Tower, but they went to the Lobby of the building to investigate.
After standing in the Lobby for a short time - and after no sign of evacuation - he and the other conference attendees found themselves outside, looking up at the fire that had erupted where the plane had hit.
He looked around to see a number of people just standing around looking at the flames, and he suddenly thought something wasn't right, and it was silly for him to be there. He decided to leave, and turned away from the building to make his way home. He had a sense that something terrible was about to happen, and he didn't want to stick around to find out what it was.
As he made his way from the Twin Towers, he suddenly heard the massive roar of a plane. He looked up, only to find the plane directly above him, and I distinctly recall him describing the closeness of the plane - as if he could reach up and touch it. He instantly knew the plane was about to hit the Twin Towers, but rather than witness it, he immediately searched for a place to take cover. He knew that when the plane did hit, debris would fly everywhere, and he didn't want to be in its pathway. He found a place behind a wall (I think), and another person (a woman he did not know, from memory) joined him, and they attempted to shield each other. They shielded themselves before the impact, which happened just seconds later.
Just as he thought, debris flew everywhere, and when it had settled, he ran from his cover and made his way back home as quickly as he could.
He walked through the door to his apartment just in time to turn on the television and see the first tower collapse.
Being pregnant at the time, my first thought was for all of the women who were perhaps pregnant and working in the World Trade Centre that day. Those that survived and those that didn't. Then, of course, my thoughts turned to the women whose husbands/partners were lost, who carried a child yet to be born (and we now know there were many).
Those that died (both on the ground and in the planes that crashed that day), those that escaped, those that tried to save the lives of others, those that knew someone who perished that day, those that lived in New York and witnessed the terrible event unfold, and lived with the aftermath that followed - including the threat of anthrax attacks - and to the employee that sent the email I read that morning...I will think of you especially today.