|Subj:||Weird sequences in Tower I|
|Date:||10/2/01 7:39:16 AM Pacific Daylight Time|
I received this from a friend yesterday (full email attached; names
deleted) about a personal escape from Tower I. This has not published
anywhere -- it is a personal account of a friend of my friend. I've
deleted names because I'm sure these people don't need any more trouble
than they've already got and I just think putting their names on a public
website could invite trouble for them.
After reading it several times, something struck me as odd: Why would
this be so: " the glass doors separating One World Trade Center from the
shops underground. The glass is all blasted out. "
Floor 15, then 10, and then 5. At 2, some light. Outside light. Close to home free. We finally exit the stairwell, into the lobby, street level, facing east, and facing a courtyard I don t really recognize. It must be in the middle of the World Trade Center complex. In the
courtyard I recognize colors. Green from a small tree, gray from buildings. Blue sky, somewhere. Black, too. Black stuff on the green, and black stuff on the ground, small puffs of smoke. It must be debris from wreckage. What looks like a person's leg. I can't focus, my mind is wandering. I don't want to look.
Firefighters lead us to the
escalators. They don t work, there's debris on them that we climb
over. We go down slowly. A few people complain we are walking
too slowly. What if you needed help? I ask. That keeps them
We get down to the lower level, to the
glass doors separating One World Trade Center from the shops underground.
The glass is all blasted out. Firefighters are showing us the way out,
through the doors. An eerie situation underground. The sprinklers
are on. People are worried about their clothes. Shops are empty,
deserted. Some lights above are still on. Some aren't.
Water collecting in puddles on the ground. Ceiling tiles here and
there. A usually noisy, active underground is virtually silent.
Firefighters are calling out to us to keep
At Floor 50 (§11) there are "rumors" of a plane hitting Tower II. They
don't hear anything and yet in §17 the glass has been blown out of the
doors in the underground area, there debris on the escalators and
sprinklers are on. Would these things happen as a result of a plane
hitting Tower I or II?
You are more on top of the sequence of things and have better access to
experts than I. I don't know if the account can shed any further light on
what was happening, but I don't see why a planes crashing high up would
"blast" out windows in the basement and place debris on escalators
underground, when the bathroom on 85 is "in pristine condition" after the
first crash? Maybe it's logical... but it doesn't sit right with me. It
sounds very much like bombs down lower to me.
See what you think...
My friend [ ---- ]sent me this---it's from a colleague of her boss.
Thought you'd be interested in seeing it.
A World Trade Center Story: Tuesday, September 11, 2001
8:00 am: I arrive at the World Trade Center complex. Stop off at the
bank in the tunnels below Two World Trade Center to make a deposit at the ATM.
8:15 am: I arrive at the 85th floor of One WTC, where my company, [snip],
has its offices. I begin preparing reports for another day of
trading at the NYMEX, located in a separate building 5 minutes away from
8:43am: I am sitting at the table in the center of the office, my back
facing the outside windows. Suddenly, a horrific explosion. An immediate
change in the air pressure. A ghostly column of air shoots like a canon
into the office. The front door slams shut. Papers are whipped into the
air. I m thrown off my chair and to the ground. My boss jumps out of his
office a second prior to the explosion. He had watched, in horrific
disbelief, the entire event as the plane narrowly missed the empire state
building and set a direct course for our building. The explosion sends
the tower shaking furiously, lurching back and forth with sickening
vengeance for maybe five or ten seconds. I think we may die. The
building may topple over, or crumble. Finally it stops. The building is
still standing. Everybody stares at each other, no idea of what happened
or what to say. Speculations about an explosion, a bomb. No, it was a
plane, our boss says. A commercial jet.
[Losing track of time]: I immediately walk to the door. Someone screams
not to open the door; the hallway is on fire. Curious, R--- and
I touch the door and the handle. It s cool. I open the door, slowly,
cautiously, to see what s out there. It s pitch black out there, except
for the office light, still on, shining off of the billowing smoke in the
hall. The smell is horrible. This is no ordinary smoke. It smells of
metal, jet fuel, of rancid concrete, of things unspeakable. I close the
door. People are still numb, shocked, confused. O--- was the first to
say it; he was getting the hell outta there. I'm with you man. I open
the door again. The smoke is thinner. I see an orange glow outside the
door, a fire smoldering around the corner. I hear guys in another
office yelling for help or something, too scared to open their
door. Nobody knows where the stairs are, not even them.
Back into the office, to grab some stuff. The black [---] jacket I wear to
the trading floor. It s full of pick cards, order tickets, my empty water
bottle, Ice gum, a calculator, a pen, a halls cough drop, and trading
analyzers. I put on my jacket. I decide to fill up my water
bottle. O--- waits for me, ready to bolt. Almost everybody wants to
M---!. Where is he? When did he leave? Where did he go? Is he
in the bathroom? The bathroom! Someone check the bathroom. I walk into
the hallway, inhaling the noxious stench, and I walk down the hall. To
the left, another hallway, three small fires burning, debris everywhere,
lights out. In front of me, another office, another man peering out, more
terrified people. To the right, another hallway, the bathroom, and the
stairwell. I open the bathroom door, everything in pristine
condition. Like nothing happened. I call out for M----, no answer. He's
not in the bathroom. We head down the stairs.
We move fast. Not a lot of people in the stairs yet. At 81, O--- stops
to help some guy break out some fire extinguishers. We each grab an
extinguisher. We get to 72. People are coming back up the stairs. What's
the problem? The door several platforms down is pinned shut. People
come back upstairs from below. We walk out into the hall to find another
stairwell. This floor had damage. Wires and debris everywhere. A wall
blown down into the hallway. Some fires smoldering in the rubble. I
cover my face and try not to look. Afraid of another explosion. We find
another stairwell at the other end of the hall.
In the next stairwell, there are more people. The descent gets
slower. We try to use O---'s cell phone. It was impossible to get a
connection; an occasional faint ring, then everything goes dead. The
display read service unavailable at this time. What, try again later?
At about 65, still trying to use the cell phone. Service still down. We
stop on a large platform. I notice a woman rocking back and forth
directly behind me. She was barefoot, holding her shoes. She asks me for
a swig of water, and uses it to wet her shirt and cover her mouth against
the sickening stench. She anxiously, nervously tells me that she has two
children, and she has to get downstairs. We start moving again. She
picks her way down quickly, passing people where she can. She makes good
progress. She's polite. She's frantic.
At 60, cell phones still not working. I toss the investor's business
daily I ve been carrying with me. Not exactly important stuff at the
moment. I think to myself that I'm trashing the building, and I feel bad.
At 50, cell phone service still out. A man with blood covering half of
his face and a bandage on his head walking down the stairs. Others pass
with him, obviously in pain. People move to the right and let them
pass. Everybody is calm, orderly, supportive. Nobody takes advantage of
the path they clear. Such calm, such unselfishness in the face of
tragedy. Quiet adrenalin. Rumors of a second plane. People are making
jokes to ease the strain.
We carry the fire extinguishers all the way down to the 49th floor. I'm
sweating like crazy, shirt untucked, unbuttoned, I'm wearing my jacket,
still carrying the fire extinguisher.
At 45, cell phones still not working. I see a firefighter heading up the
stairs. A reassuring presence, giving words of encouragement. At 35,
more firefighters, serious equipment in their hands, on their backs. At
30, the door to that floor is open, firefighters have set up base camp,
they've dropped their stuff, tended to some injured people. They've
secured all the floors below them. They're working their way up, trying
to save the people above us. At 25, a man with a cane struggles down the
stairs, another man is helping him down. After we pass these men, things
start moving. Maybe he was the bottleneck. We stop less frequently now.
At 20, a woman, J---, is struggling to get down, tired and out of
breath. We offer water and help, she accepts. We wait a few seconds for
her to rest. O--- takes her purse, which is heavy, and her jacket. O---
walks in front of her, I walk behind. We tell people to pass us on our left.
Floor 15, then 10, and then 5. At 2, some light. Outside light. Close
to home free. We finally exit the stairwell, into the lobby, street
level, facing east, and facing a courtyard I don t really recognize. It
must be in the middle of the World Trade Center complex. In the courtyard
I recognize colors. Green from a small tree, gray from buildings. Blue
sky, somewhere. Black, too. Black stuff on the green, and black stuff on
the ground, small puffs of smoke. It must be debris from wreckage. What
looks like a person's leg. I can't focus, my mind is wandering. I don't
want to look.
Firefighters lead us to the escalators. They don't work, there's debris
on them that we climb over. We go down slowly. A few people complain we
are walking too slowly. What if you needed help? I ask. That keeps them quiet.
We get down to the lower level, to the glass doors separating One World
Trade Center from the shops underground. The glass is all blasted
out. Firefighters are showing us the way out, through the doors. An
eerie situation underground. The sprinklers are on. People are worried
about their clothes. Shops are empty, deserted. Some lights above are
still on. Some aren't. Water collecting in puddles on the
ground. Ceiling tiles here and there. A usually noisy, active
underground is virtually silent. Firefighters are calling out to us to
We pass a sandwich shop, Banana Republic, Gap, entrance to Two World Trade
Center. The firefighters lead us northeast, around a corner. We
stop. J--- wants to rest. The firefighters urge us
forward. J--- wants a swig of water. Just then, I hear a faint noise
behind us, it sounds like water rumbling. No, it s people screaming, they
are running, a mad fury, a tidal wave before the crescendo. What are they
Someone yells to start running. We start running. Part of the
underground goes black. Like someone flicks off the switch. We take 3 or
4 steps; O--- slips and falls sideways to his left. People yell for us to
get down. We dive to the ground. The blast is like a hurricane. I find
a small corner; I ball up as fast as I can. I cover my head with both
arms. I grimace, mouth open, teeth clinched. For the second time in an
hour, I think I m about to die. Things pelting me: shards of glass,
pieces of debris. I wait for something to sever me in two, and then the
chaos subsides. Much later, I find out the blast was 2WTC coming down.
I open my eyes. I ve gone blind. Pitch black. Maybe I didn t open my
eyes. I close them tight, then open them again. Nothingness. I take a
breath. Metal, ash, concrete. I cough, and breathe again. More
ash. With each breath I take, it s more painful. I call out for O--- and
J---, she answers, he doesn t. I call out again. I fear something
happened to him. I call out again. Finally, a cough, and a faint
response. They re both alive. A few seconds pass. Somebody steps on
me. What's that down there? A person, dude. Oh, sorry. I gather my
wits, and try to get my bearings after being stepped on.
Then, a glimmer of light from behind. A fireman's floodlight. It s hard
to see anything at all. The air is thick with dust and ash. I begin to
see silhouettes of people, I see the man who stepped on me, that s cool
man. I see things blown all around us. I carefully stand up. I see O---
hunched over on the ground. He coughs some more stuff up and spits it
out. O--- slowly stands. The fireman starts to walk by. Others are
following. I pull J--- to her feet. I don t want the fireman to get
away. He s not walking fast, but it gets dark quickly without the
light. I grab for O---'s hand. The group of us develop a human
chain. We follow the fireman. Another floodlight turns on in front of us.
Without the firemen's lights, we know we would be crawling, in total,
pitch black. It would take forever without their help. We navigate
slowly in the direction we had originally intended. B---? O---, is that
you? It's J---, one of our firm's partners, in from Chicago, caught
underground with us. J--- joins our group; he knows the underground
and its shops well. We walk slowly, about eighty yards. We see light,
it's natural light, we walk towards it. It s upstairs, the street
level. We see another escalator, we walk to it, it has more debris on
it. We walk up it. We get to the top, doors in front of us to the
right. Broken glass. Debris. A large rug, or mat, it s blocking the
entrance, but only slightly. We ll have to walk over it, through the
broken glass door, to the outside. We re almost outside. We carefully
step over the rug. We re outside.
Outside, it s a war zone. A monochromatic landscape, covered in dirt and
ash. Like lint, everything meshes into one color - gray. We re in a
movie, an abandoned city. Visibility is at the most 50 feet. I never
once look up. I m still grabbing on to J---. I feel like I m pulling
her too much. I slow down. I'm amazed at the amount of soot on the
ground. Several inches thick. The air is full of dust and ash. Just
keep walking, don t stop. We need to keep walking. Where's O---? He's
in front of us, I know, I just can't see him.
We reach a street, I think it s a street; it s covered in ash. We keep
walking across the street. Somebody comes running towards us, shouts out
to us, look for bodies under cars. A four-inch layer of ash and dust
covers the streets. I glance around for bodies, I don't see any. We
start to walk by a church with a graveyard. We stop. I cough up the ash
in my mouth and lungs, take a drink of water, and spit out blackness. I
tell J--- to take some water and do the same. Swish it around and
spit it out. She asks me where her purse and jacket are. I don't
know. O--- had them. Where is O---? I call out for him. Now I don't
know where he is. I call out for him again, finally I see him up ahead.
We start walking again. We pass the church, we get to another street,
there's less ash on the ground, the air is better, better
visibility. J--- says she needs her purse. She has no money. She
doesn't know what to do. I ll give you some money, don't worry. You re
alive. Be happy you re alive. We continue walking. We meet back up with
O---. Now about 3 blocks away from our exit, a man is standing in a store
doorway. He opens the door and tells us to come in. J--- is
exhausted; she wants to stay there. She sits down on some stairs. O---
and I want to keep moving. We tell J--- that we have to leave. We
exchange numbers. O--- and I each give her $10 to get home. We kiss her
on the forehead and wish her good luck.
We walk about ten minutes. People have lined the sidewalks, looking at
the building on fire. We keep walking away. Then, a horrifying gasp,
people begin crying. We turn around to look. One World Trade Center goes
down. Our building. We watch it go down, floor by floor by floor.
Unbelievable. Let's get outta here. We turn back around and keep
walking. We come upon three co-workers. Thank God your alive. We find
pay phones, with lines 20 people long. We keep walking, just trying to
get away to call somebody, let them know we're alive. We walk about
thirty minutes. We take a side street. We find a corner store. It has a
pay phone. Nobody is using it. We take turns calling our wives, our
parents, and our friends. We're okay, we're alive. We all walk home
together. I walk the entire length of Manhattan to get home to the upper
west side. On the way I see my sister, I go to friends places, I see
other new Yorkers walking home. Surreal.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001.
9:00 am. I receive a call from O---. Everybody made it out okay. M---
Monday, September 16, 2001.
2:01 pm. I receive a letter from my bank. The ATM deposit went through.