Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: I AM SAFE

*Photo taken by me w/ a Kodak disposable camera; a few days before 9/11

Dear Everyone,

Hello everyone...family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances...I would like to let everyone know that I am safe and sound. I was on the 25th floor in World Trade Center Tower #1 -(the first plane crash) and safely escaped before the buildings went down. I would like thank everyone for worrying and thinking about me; I would like to thank everyone for keeping me in their prayers and most of all, I would like to thank God for the safety of myself and all of my co-workers at Garban Intercapital.

I tried my very best to get in contact with most of you but communication was impossible. I'm sorry for not being able to give you my side of the story because I was too exhausted during the aftermath and was in too much shock to answer questions, so hopefully this e-mail will give you some insight into what I horribly experienced.


Let me first tell you that my company occupies the entire 25th and 26th floors in WTC 1 and that my desk was on the other side; the more "safer side" of the WTC. But can you believe that I had to fax a few documents and was therefore on the opposite side of the floor...the same side of the building where the first plane had struck! All I heard was a large boom and the whole floor shook like an earthquake!!

I originally thought it was construction that had been going on upstairs for weeks but a few seconds later, I saw massive amounts of glass, paper, debris and shrapnel fall right in front of me; outside the window! After that, I nervously, randomly and suddenly jumped on top of a desk and leapt-off it; heading straight towards an exit but I saw the ceiling in the hallway start to cave in and a lady was yelling, "Go the other way!"

So we headed towards the other side of the building (where my desk was) and I quickly grabbed my briefcase. Initially, our company's teleprompter system told us to report back and stay at our desks but after 5 - 10 minutes, certain departments began evacuating and I believe it was only then that they announced for all of us to evacuate...and so, we all headed towards the stairwell.

I'll never forget — John G. (an eccentric grandpa/teddy bear/wartime type) sat in his seat w/ his feet-crossed while watching the news on our TV screens and mumbling to himself out-loud to the tune of — 'I don't know why everyone is panicking, it's nothing more than an accidental helicopter crash...I'm not leaving the desk...(I'm not abandoning ship)'

An unsettling feeling was that while we were slowly walking down the stairs, many of the brokers were cracking jokes...complaining about their $200 'gator' shoes getting wet because pipes had burst and was leaking...acting all nonchalant and whimsical about the evacuation. I heard rumors that it was an accidental plane crash or a helicopter news crash and nothing else. -(I found out after the whole tragedy that we were still in the stairwell when the second plane crashed.)

While evacuating ‘single file’ on the right-hand side of the stairs, you can see fire fighters and policemen (FDNY & NYPD) march up on the left-hand side of the stairs. Little did we all know that this was the last time we were going to see these brave and heroic people! -(God bless them all...R.I.P.)

It took us approximately 40 minutes to reach the building lobby -(the World Trade Center's huge shopping mall) and when I got out...I didn't recognize the lobby and that's when I started realizing the enormity of this "so-called" accident. What really convinced me that this was something serious was that the Banana Republic's store windows were all pitch-black, covered in soot and many of the windows were shattered.

The police slowly directed us out of the Marriot Hotel's exit and when I got out into the streets, I saw nothing but glass and debris fall to the left and right of me and that's when I really started to panic! I put the briefcase over my head and ran as fast as I could across the street and after a couple of blocks down, I -along with hundreds of others, watched in amazement, horror and disbelief; the beginning of the World Trade's destruction. 

At that time, I still didn't know how or why the Twin Towers were on fire...I just thought a newscopter had accidentally crashed. And little did we all know that we were all still in danger because the buildings were about to collapse. Looking up at the buildings, I saw what everyone else was seeing on television...two huge, orange balls of fire and thick, grey smoke that seem to grow larger and larger as minutes went by! 
Horrifically, you can see actual people; human beings on the window's ledge trying to avoid the burning fire. Unfortunately, I saw atleast 5 people jump and fall to their tragic deaths!


A lasting, traumatic image that I still have in my head is an image of a couple...holding hands before jumping off the ledge. It is way too sad and horrifying to describe...I just couldn't take anymore of this madness; this insanity and so I decided to find the nearest subway in hopes of getting to my Mom's store in Chinatown.

When I reached the Battery Park area, I saw hordes of people on the highway running towards my direction...trying to escape from the biggest ball of smoke -(a dust cloud of soot) that I have ever seen in my life! It was mass hysteria...everyone was in panic-mode...gossiping and screaming that the building had collapsed and that there were more bombs; bombs in the sewer, bombs in other buildings, bombs planted in mailboxes, etc. I tried running towards a ferry boat station near one of the piers but there were literally hundreds and hundreds of people waiting to be rescued by these boats.

By this time, I was really scared and afraid that the smoke would engulf us all and that's when I looked up and saw people running on the FDR highway going towards the Brooklyn Bridge. And this point, I made my decision and headed towards the highway...climbed over a highway wall and started jogging while covering my mouth with my shirt. I looked behind and there were many who were following my very move.

The huge dust ball of soot and smoke eventually engulfed me but that made me run even faster. When I got near the Brooklyn Bridge, you can see hordes of people running towards the bridge and ferry boats near the piers of South St. Seaport. I contemplated on running all the way to Brooklyn but I made a left instead and was only a few blocks away from my Mom's hair salon in Chinatown. There were people in front of stores providing help and relief...handing out free bottles of water, clothing and food.

Upon arriving to my Mom's store, I will never ever forget seeing my mother in total hysteria...she ran into my arms and began crying –it's a cry that still rings in my head...a cry that I never ever want to hear again. She was hugging and patting me (as if to keep me warm from the cold)...she eventually fell to her knees and wouldn't let go of my leg! My Mom and her co-workers were trying to comfort me but I felt that I was fine (it was my mother who I was more worried about). Then our thoughts quickly turned to my father who works only a few blocks away from the WTC. Then about 15 minutes later my Dad arrived and I didn't know what to say or do and so, I just shook his hand. -(I wished I gave my father a hug instead). But most of all, I thanked God that my family was safe and sound!

We all watched in terror and in horror the collapse of the Twin Towers on TV and I couldn't believe what was happening! The mass destruction...the deaths of so many innocent people...it was the scariest day of my life...the worst day of my life. I never ever thought in my wildest dreams that those towers could have collapsed...NEVER! I desperately began trying to call all of my loved ones...way too many to count, but still no luck. And when I finally got through to my voicemail -(22 messages) and heard everyone's voice, I never felt so "loved" and "mushy" in my whole entire life!!

Again, I would like to thank everyone for being so concerned about me but keep in mind that while I was out there on Ground Zero...I couldn't stop thinking about everyone...all of my families and friends -whether close or distant, and that's what kept me going.

I know that this is only a computer generated letter and that it may seem superficial but believe me when I tell you that I have never appreciated life and appreciated the love that I have for everyone that's in my life like I do now. It makes you value life and what you have in life more than anything!! I truly and dearly love all of you from the bottom of my heart and I hope we can all get through this...thank you so much.

Love Always & Forever,                                                                  


R.I.P. WTC 9.11.01
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...