dear gang, in case you guys are not aware, my restaurant is located in the lower arcade level at 120 broadway. this is 1 block from ground zero. walking out the entrance of my building and turning right for 40 feet to the corner, the wtc is in full view directly to the left. there is a park to the left so the building is in full view not obscured by other buildings.
when i heard the commotion i went upstairs around 9:15 and saw the first building burning after the plane hit. what was incredible was the speed in which the flames were shooting down the floors. it seemed as if they were descending at the rate of a floor a minute. i returned to the restaurant when the building loudspeaker announced that no evacuation was necessary. i still had no idea of the extent of the situation.
20 minutes later the loudspeaker announced that we must evacuate. the second plane had hit but i still had no clue. all employees left and i was doing some last minute chores when i looked out my entrance doors and saw the hallway filling quickly with what seemed like white smoke. i thought, ahh haa, time to leave. luckily enough, the cloud was not smoke from a fire but the dust cloud created by the collapse of the first building. i was surprised how quickly this dust cloud had filled my level which is under the main lobby. the dust was choking and i made my way out the rear entrance of the building, which is not on broadway. i walked east towards the seaport in what seemed like a war zone. you could not see more than a few feet ahead with the dust and debris swirling around with people all around heading in the same direction away from the trade centers.
it took many blocks before we were out of the dust and i was covered with it by the time i was in the clear. by now there were thousands of people heading up town on foot since there was no public transportation. the area was complete chaos. crowded streets clogged with pedestrians and rescue vehicles. nothing was moving very quickly. no cell phones were working and all pay phones had long lines.
i made it to chinatown before being able to use a phone in a small store. talking to a lady behind the counter she said she worked in the world trade center. i asked how come she was not there? she said she was late for work this morning!!!!!!!
i continued uptown when i remembered that i had a friend in the east village on second ave. and 11th street. he was home and i was finally able to sit down and clean off the dust and dirt and see on tv what had happened. buses finally started running at 5 pm and i was able to make it home to 80th street. i am not able to get downtown, at this point, to see what damage to my building might have occurred or to feed my cats.
hopefully there will be enough mice to keep them alive until i can get back, at this point, perhaps on monday. i do not have to say that the enormity of this event, where i was closer to then most, is beyond words. all we can do is offer our prayers and understand that nothing can be taken for granted. all the best to everyone…