Sunday, September 11, 2005

9/11 notes that I saved for our family and for the historical record

Orthomom reminded me of what I've been trying to forget when she published a 9/11 post. She almost lost her husband that day.

I wrote these posts in Word and published them on my favorite message boards on September 11, 2001.

/Posting on all B5 websites:

Topic name (more or less)—

Re World Trade Cntr: I’m ok, but I don’t know about my sister

As many of you are, no doubt, aware by now, both World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan, New York City, USA, collapsed about an hour and a half after 2 hijacked airplanes crashed into them. (A hijacked airplane also crashed into the Pentagon Building, home of the US Defense Department, in Washington, DC, USA. Part of that building has also collapsed. There was a report that a car bomb exploded outside of the US State Department Building, also in Washington, DC, USA. All US Federal government buildings in Washington, DC have been evacuated.) Manhattan is being evacuated south of Canal Street.

My husband and I are both safe at home in . . . Our son is safe in school in . . ., though we're not sure how he's going to get home, now that subway ("underground," "metro") service has been suspended.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the fate of my sister, who lives only a 10-minute walk from where the World Trade Center towers stood until only about an hour ago. The most recent news is that Battery Park City, the development in which she lives, is currently being evacuated by boat, there being a landing for the ferry from (Weehawken?), New Jersey (across the Hudson River from Manhattan) at the World Financial Center, just north of her building.

11:54 AM

We have just received word from our synagogue, of which my husband is the president, that the police have advised our office staff to close the synagogue office. Presumably, this is a precaution against possible terrorist attack.

[From a response on one of the message boards:]

Tonight the fires will begin in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Shops will burn and people of Arab persuasion will be beaten and killed. Expect an increase in violence at a city near you.
As despicable as it is, I don't even care.
"I look at my beautiful city in flames, and I cry"~ Delenn

Wed., Sept. 12, 2001, 1:00 PM

I am happy and relieved to report that I've spoken to my sister, who’s alive and well at the home one of our first cousins in South Jersey (that’s southern New Jersey, for the Brits on the ‘Net).My sister told me a harrowing tale when I finally got hold of her. Living in the Battery Park City apartment complex just south of the World Financial Center, which is across the street from the World Trade Center site, she was, literally, a ten-minute walk from the World Trade Center. She left her apartment and came down to the street level (presumably to get a better view, since her apartment’s windows don’t face the WTC site) after the first plane crashed into the first tower, and witnessed the second crash. She was standing at the boat basin (a marina for yachts), which is between her apartment complex and the World Financial Center, when the first tower collapsed. All present were urged to run south on the promenade that runs directly behind her complex along the Hudson River. They literally ran for their lives as the smoke began to engulf them. Fortunately, ferries were arriving from New Jersey, just across the Hudson, and a construction barge had already been moored in that area. She was one of about 30(?) people who ended up on the construction barge, after all were urged not to jump into the river. Those who were fortunate enough to find water transportation were evacuated to New Jersey. By the time she arrived on the Jersey side of the Hudson, the second tower had already collapsed. An evacuation center was being set up, to give the evacuees a place to sleep, but my sister decided to try to contact relatives. She ended up taking a shuttle bus to the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) commuter train station in Newark, from which she was, also, briefly evacuated. From there, having no money and purely by declaring evacuee status (presumably, she was sufficiently coated with dust to make her claim credible), she made her way to a New Jersey railroad train to Trenton, New Jersey, from which she took a train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From Philly, she took yet another train to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where she was picked up by our cousin, arriving at our cousin’s home at about 11 PM. I’m sure she’ll remember yesterday as one of the longest days of her life. Had she not been taking shots for the past year and a half for life-threatening allergies, she would almost certainly have died of smoke inhalation, which was my chief concern. She counts herself very lucky to be alive. None of us has the slightest idea when she’ll be able to return to her apartment.

P. S. Here's the latest news--it's about 2:15 AM United States Eastern Daylight Time:

Three more buildings in the area surrounding the WTC site are in serious danger of collapsing.

Rescue workers are now being required to use face masks because of asbestos particles in the air.

There was a report about 2 hours ago that New York City has requested *6,000* body bags.

[From some responses on the message boards:]

Maybe we should attach a label to Earth: "to get rid of this species, just wait a bit longer".

"Ask him about Palestinians. They're simply not human. "

I seem to remember a guy named Adolph saying the same thing about the Jews. Let's not start down that road again, shall we?

From: <>
To: <>
Subject: re:[my sister]
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 11:22 PM

Hi ___,
___ and I just arrived home with [my sister]. It is 11:00 Tuesday.
love, [my first cousin]

Hi ___
I left my apartment after the first plane crashed and was outside
and saw the South tower get hit from my lobby. I was at the outer edge
of the yaught basin watching the north tower burn when the south tower
collapsed, so I was on the promenade and in the thickest part of the
smoke. I was evacuated to NJ and I am OK. From NJ, I called [our first cousin]
and Aunt ____ to ask them to call Mom and Dad and I tried to call you
several times but the circuits were busy, as you probably know. I
eventually got an evacuation bus to go to the PATH to Newark and then
took the train to Phila, and the high speed line to Cherry Hill where
M___ and B___ picked me up. I guess it will be a week or two before
they allow anyone back into Battery Park City and I shudder to think what
my apart must look like (dust, broken glass, who knows?) but I am safe
and I came very close to not being OK. If I had been in that smoke
another 10 minutes, I would've been asphysiated(sp?) so I have much to be
thankful for today. Love, [my sister]l
Please forward this to [our Israeli brother] and [our brother in California] if you have their emails.

From: [a friend]
To: [us]
Subject: We are ok
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 1:11 AM

Just a note to all that we are ok.
[His wife] fortunately was scheduled for a class in midtown.
I, on the other hand, got to Wall Street later than usual due to
voting and train delays, and when I got out onto the street, there was
debris and people were gathered and looking up. I turned to see that
were looking at a burning trade center. I continued on to work, not
much else, and found many coworkers outside, and was told that we had
the option
to go home if we wanted to, but I opted to at least go to my desk after
hearing about
the planes, to call my dad to let him know I was ok.
My desk is on the 12th floor facing Broad Street at the NYSE. Had
trouble getting through
to my dad. Finally did, and just as we began our conversation, the first
Trade Center
collapsed (it's about 8 blocks away) and it sounded like a plane
was going to crash into the NYSE, and then smoke rose above my 12th
floor window and totally blocked any view of anything. It was during
this time that I
reacted with "Oh my G-D" and then the phone line went dead, so those
were the last words
my dad heard from me for several hours until I was able to get a call
out from a phone.
We were then evacuated from the floor. We went down 12 flights of
stairs, and ended up
outside. It was horrible. It was like a war zone. Couldn't see. Couldn't
(I am writing this at 9:30 at night, and I can still taste the soot.)
So I went back into the building, where we waited in the lobby still
breathing this
soot, and finally they escorted us onto the floor of the NYSE where the
air was better,
and where I stayed until 3pm when word came that some of the trains were
running, but possibly
not below 14th street. So I walked in the war zone of lower manhattan,
guided by the police toward
the water, and eventually found a train at East Broadway in Chinatown.
I hope the closest most of you got or get to this tragedy is simply what
you see on TV, and that no one
you know personally has been injured or killed by this terrorist act.
[A friend]

From: [a friend]
To: [us ]
Subject: My sister's ok!
Date: Thursday, September 13, 2001 9:32 AM

Glad tomhear she's OK. I saw the collapse from Chambers Street, and I
managed to get home by 3:00 after walking to Penn Station and waiting for
the trains to start up again. I work at the World Financial Center, so
I'll probably get back around when she does.

Take care,
[Our friend]

A message-board post by me:

I'm a member of 2 synagogues. The member whom I reported was missing turns out not to have been on the scene--he's alive and well. Unfortunately, I've since learned that a member of my other synagogue who worked in the WTC is still missing.

[From message-board posts:]

As we are all mourning the loss of so many lives tragically cut short by the brutal terrorist assaults of yesterday, there is something fundamental we all must think about before its too late.
I am appalled by the savage attacks on yet more innocents perpetrated by outraged americans upon americans who's only crime is to be of Middle Eastern descent. This is not the answer and makes each person committing these heinous crimes terrorists themselves. We are all outraged and grieving, but we are NOT TERRORISTS! It is not acceptable to inflict pain on those NOT responsible for these reprehensible acts. The terrorists acted without compassion, or reason. There are as many of Arab/Islamic descent who are just as outraged and grieving just as we are.

Somewhere in some small apartment on the other side of the world a woman is preparing a meal for her family while listening to the radio. And while she knows no one in New York or D.C. her heart is breaking for the families of the dead.

A later message-board post by me:

October 5, 2001
Watching the news is a strange experience. The pedestrian overpass leading to the World Financial Center is still standing—but the building at its eastern end is gone. I wonder whether they’ll tear down the overpass, or whether they’ll build new stairs and/or an elevator leading up to it.

“New York” magazine [oops—that should have read “The New York Times Magazine,” Sunday, Sept. 23, 2001 edition] carried a photo of the Winter Garden with the ceiling windows as shattered as our delusions of safety.

There’s a huge gap on the subway map. South of Canal St., only the stations east of Broadway are open. Some trains are being rerouted, and some that aren’t running at all are being replaced by others for the foreseeable future. I’ve heard that the 1 and 9, N and R stations at Cortland St., as well as the WTC stop on the PATH train, were crushed under tons of debris, and that it may be years before they’re rebuilt. It’s going to be one heck of a long walk to my sister’s apartment from Wall Street.

My sister has dropped out of sight. At last report, she’s returned to New York, but no one in my family knows where she’s staying. Her apartment building in Battery Park City has not yet been re-opened for occupancy, according to the latest info from the landlord’s website.

Our friend from our synagogue in Queens is taking things as well as he can, under the circumstances. His subway train was late getting to the World Trade Center on September 11—that’s why he’s alive and some of his co-workers are dead. His employer, the State of New York, is sending him and his surviving colleagues to offices in Brooklyn, where they’re getting counseling. There’s nowhere for them to work, and all their time and attendance and pension records are gone, but at least they’re alive.

Our sister congregant from our synagogue in Manhattan was not so lucky. The dreaded announcement for which we’ve been waiting has finally arrived: Her memorial service will take place this Sunday.

I won't post all of my notes on the attack and the responses to the attack--personal, political, and military. As you can imagine, there was considerable discussion on my various favorite message boards--my notes are 130 pages long.

The man from our Queens synagogue who survived and the woman from the synagogue in Manhattan of which we were then members who did not survive turned out to have known one another in passing--they worked for the same State of New York agency, only a few floors away from one another.


Blogger PsychoToddler said...

My brother in law was supposed to be on a PATH train that morning, but there was a back up in traffic and he couldn't make the train. Later he found out why.

Mon Sep 12, 10:09:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Your brother-in-law and my sister were among the lucky ones. I hope that the loved ones of those who weren't so fortunate have found some measure of comfort in the intervening years.

Mon Sep 12, 10:38:00 PM 2005  

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