My mother called but I was asleep so I didn’t pay much attention to her message. I thought I heard her say something about a plane and the World Trade Center but figured I’d call her back later. Then my friend called yelling, “Please pick up! Please pick up!”
She told me what happened, the second plane had already hit. I got dressed and ran into the street and saw a huge cloud of smoke in the sky. Everyone on the streets looked panicked and they were talking about it. Two girls yelled at a homeless guy who was smiling and saying, “This is the beginning of the end.”
I got all the way to Houston Street and watched the second building collapse. I didn’t know the first had gone down because it fell as I was walking east to west on 12th street. I did hear people yell, “Something just fell!”
After Houston Street I managed to get closer. West Street was filled with people. Some were covered in ash from head to toe. One guy was saying it takes 90 minutes to walk the stairs from top to bottom and there’s no way everyone could have gotten out. People scattered yelling that there was another plane, but the police told us they were worried about gas leaks and pushed us all back.
I slipped in and out of streets and got as close as I could. Everything was covered in ash and there were papers from the offices everywhere. I saw everything from a receipt for Jets tickets to business presentation photocopies. Vendor stands were left fully stocked and unattended. There was a small group of people holding film cameras and video cameras, or just plain looking. The press was there. The cops stopped us from getting too close.
I was a few blocks away and saw flames but had no idea about all the people jumping. At that point I still couldn’t believe it and didn’t have a clue as to how many people were in there. Another building fell and I had to leave the area. A thick black smoke cloud rolled down the street and I had to breath through my shirt. Little pieces of dirt were pelting my forehead. Ash was falling into my eyes and my arms and hair were coated gray.
I had just been in the Trade Center a week before. I walked on the patio, in the book store, and in the mall downstairs. It’s hard to believe all that is gone. I’m fortunate that I didn’t lose anyone I know, so far. It didn’t hit me about how many people were lost until I started seeing all the missing posters all over the city. All types of people were in there.
David - NYC