My office is about 2.5 blocks from what used to be the World Trade Center. I travel on the subway under the Hudson and under the Center to get to the office. There is a huge mall under those buildings (was) and I usually stop and check the clearance racks. I got there this morning around 8:45am and was going in to get a squirt of cologne from the “Tester” bottles at this one shop, but changed my mind. So I went through the WTC towers to get out of the mall and stopped for a pee call in the adjoining hotel. I heard the first explosion and the building shook a bit. Alarms went off and as I walked into the hallway, there was smoke. Consider this is one floor below ground and the first plane hit about 80 floors up. People were running toward the doors of the hotel that exit onto West Street. We were all stopped by security who told us there was debris falling and not to exit. Someone then led us (about 500 people) to the bar and opened the doors there leading outside. The chaos began.
I looked up and saw the fire and smoke and wondered why there was a bomb that high up. Not knowing that it was an airplane that caused this. I went across to the buildings along the Hudson and we just watched the fire and emergency personnel swarm in. I went up to a cop at a intersection and asked if I could help. There was a car wrecked in the road there and he said we needed to move it. The owner came up and said it was stuck there. The entire back of the car was gone. I have no idea why though. I can only think that something fell on it. A bellman from a hotel had towels and the cop was draping them over certain items in the road. I then walked over and noticed a yellow garment, like a sundress made of gauze, wrapping a torso. It looked more like meat, no skin. The cop said to help him with the towel. We covered it. I guess it would be identified later. I then walked over and saw a foot and got another towel from the cop. Strangely, it had some sort of mechanical hinge imbedded in the piece of meat. I stared at it for what seemed like a few minutes. It was laying against the curb.
I then heard what sounded like a rocket firing from a helicopter gun ship (I served in the US Army for 18 years) and looked up. Screams were everywhere and we saw the second plane slam into the other tower. I expected it to come out the other end, but it didn’t. Not even a part protruded from the building. I saw the plane, it was blue with a white or silver belly. It was a commercial jet. I knew this was some bizarre act of terrorism. It seemed like a movie.
I started running south to Battery Park, away from all the high buildings. Every sound I heard I anticipated explosions. I pictured a Tom Clancy movie and jets strafing us on the ground. I headed for the trees of the park. Thousands were walking around dazed and not knowing what to do. Everyone was on the cell phone, but no signals were getting through.
I decided to walk around the tip of the island to get to my office on the other side. I needed to get a landline to call Mom and get my cell phone since it was on my desk. I walked through the streets of smoke and debris. Picking up personal calendars and plane tickets from the ground, thinking of the owners. I ran to my office scared of another attack to the Stock Market or Federal Reserve Bank, all within blocks of me. At my office, a group of my company employees were outside. I told them I was going in to make a call and get my phone. They waited. I came out quickly and we stared at the buildings as they burned. We talked about walking north before they collapsed but we were mesmerized. A minute later, we heard an explosion and ran to the waterfront. Everyone was screaming again and a cloud was headed down the cavernous streets, pulled by the winds to the water. Right at us. The cloud overtook us and we were all covered in ashes and insulation grit. I took off one of my shirt and wet it. Then wrapped my head and mouth in it. Breathing through the shirt and keeping my eyes draped. The cloud took about 10 minutes to blow over us. It was then realized that the tower collapsed.
I walked all the way to midtown. Stopping to pray along the way at a chapel. I got to my old company office and people were there. I used the phones, useless though. Washed the debris off and convinced them all to leave. One guy had a car and he said that we should get on the road in it. Traffic was light. We found a route out through the north up to the Tappan Zee Bridge then he brought me down into Jersey. Darrell picked me up from there. It was about 5pm. Please go donate blood for all those poor people. I am home for at least a day and then I need to figure out how to get to work.