I woke up this morning, just like any other morning (Except for this morning I woke up unemployed because I lost my job last week) and I started this morning off just like any other, I got up, took a shit, made myself a pot of coffee, turned on the Howard Stern Show on my radio and logged onto my computer to check my e-mail. Howard Stern this morning was talking about his chances of banging Pamela Anderson and what not, when all of the sudden Stern announced that the World Trade center building has been hit by a terrorist attack, that a airplane just now crashed into it. At first I didn’t believe it, until I looked out the window of my Brooklyn apartment.
What I saw was one of the World trade Center towers with a huge hole in one of its sides with a huge trail of black smoke coming out of it, with what at the time looked like a mushroom cloud. At this time, only one of the buildings was hit. So, instinctively I grabbed my camera, my box of film, jumped on my mountain bike and headed down as fast as I could into Manhattan to witness up close and personal what just happened. I live in Brooklyn, and in order to get into Manhattan I had to hop over a bridge to get into the city. The police closed down the Brooklyn Bridge right away, and they were not letting traffic into Manhattan at all. So I went over the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan. On the way to the Williamsburg bridge all you hear is police sirens, and traffic was at a standstill on all the major streets here, everybody was up on their roofs to looking at the downtown Manhattan skyline to see the World trade Center towers to see just what just happened. Hundreds of confused people were also out on the streets curiously observing what just took place. A lot of people had the video camera out filming and some with portable radios listing in to what happened. The police later blocked off all traffic into the city, so I was lucky enough to be able to get into the city when I did. When I was riding my bike over the Williamsburg bridge I noticed that the first tower was now hit and smoke was coming out of it.
When I got into the city, there was this feeling that the city was empty. It was still early morning and most of the business were not yet open yet, and there was a lot less cars and taxi cabs out on the streets than usual. When you got closer to the towers, the streets were covered in broken glass from the windows from the surrounding buildings that shattered from the impact from the planes hitting the building as well as small concrete chunks from the building.
At the time, the city sounded really quiet and all you can hear was a couple sirens from police cars and ambulance’s. A lot of people from the surrounding buildings had already evacuated. Out on the streets there were thousands of people (mostly business people in business attire) all walking away from the buildings. All of them were surprisingly calm but all had a very confused look about them, and most of them were on there cell phones. When I got closer to the towers, there was not a lot of people out on the streets (at least where I was) and you could hear from where I was standing the fire inside the building crackling. I could see people inside of the building looking out, waiting for help. There was glass all over the streets and misc. debris. There wasn’t a lot of police or fireman around the buildings when I first got there, or at least where I was standing, just a lot of empty parked police cars and fire engines. there was only a couple police officers and fire men observing the towers on every other street corner, all looking up at the WTC. I was a couple blocks away from the building when I looked up at one of the towers when I saw a shirtless man jump out from one the the top floor windows. It seemed to me like he was falling in slow motion. He fell to his death nearby from where I was standing. I watched him fall all the way down (which seemed like forever and in slow motion) and I actually felt the thump of his body hitting the ground, and heard the thump echo down the surrounding alleys and streets. Police shortly evacuated me out of that area, because I was way too close. When I took the camera out both of the building were still standing. Again, there was not a lot of people around where I was. Just a couple police men and security guards from the nearby buildings. When I started to take photos of the building you could hear some of the people inside of the building yelling for help. One person had a white T-shirt out and was waving in a circle motion out his window on one of the top floors signaling for help. When I started to take more photos of the WTC towers on fire I observed what I thought was pieces of the building falling down, but then when I took a closer look I noticed it was people jumping out. Every 5 to 10 seconds somebody would jump out. At this one window I counted 10 people jumping out all at once. One by one. Most of the people who jumped out were shirtless and partially naked, thus making me believe that the heat was soo unbearable inside the building that they probably decided to jump to their death than to be burned alive. From where I was standing you could hear each body hit the ground. It was all surreal. A helicopter flew nearby one of the towers, and all of the sudden you could see several peoples heads sticking out of the windows screaming for help and to be rescued, but the helicopter just flew by closely like it was going to land up on the room, but then backed off and flew away. People were throwing papers out the windows, and pieces of the building were falling down all around.
I was standing on a nearby street corner, staring at the towers, taking it all in, when all of the sudden, I heard this loud thunderous boom. It was the loudest dark noise I have ever heard before in my entire fucking life. It seemed like 3 long seconds of thunder. I can’t describe how loud and creepy it sounded. And then all of the sudden it sounded like another bomb just exploded. BooooM!!! It was so loud that a couple nearby windows exploded all around me. Glass all over. Everybody around me was running for their lives, screaming “RUN!!! RUN!!! THE BUILDINGS COMING DOWN!! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!! GO!! GO!! GO!!!” I looked round me and noticed everybody else took off and I was the only one standing there on the street corner when all of the sudden this avalanche of building and white debris and dust was coming down right at me through this one street. It looked like a white avalanche and it was coming right at me. I had no idea that the building was going to collapse. I jumped as fast as I could on my bike and booked like fucking hell away from the avalanche. But it was too late, I was immediately engulfed of the thick, thick, white cloud of debris and dust. It felt like being in the pathway of an atomic bomb. Everything turned to black. My eyes were burning from particles getting into them and my lung were automatically engulfed with the shit. I closed my eyes, and covered my nose and mouth with my T-shirt and kept on pedaling. Shit was falling down all around me. All I could hear was thousands of dust particles going past me, and people screaming in horror. When I finally got away from the avalanche and the white smoke cleared out, I collapsed on the ground and started hacking up the shit from my lungs. My eyes were stinging. I was completely covered in thick white soot from head to toe. Some people around me were barfing and also hacking up shit. I then decided to get a safe distance from the second tower.
Now even more people were jumping out of the second tower. If you look closely at the first photo, inside the red circle is a person falling from a window. I think they probably freaked out from the first tower collapsing. I seriously lost track of how many people I saw jump to there death. People all around me were covering there mouths so they could breath. The air was now thick with white clouds of soot. People were now panicked and some crying and some people even went into hysteria. Police were shouting to evacuate the area. I decided to venture towards city hall to see what was going on over there, on my way there all the streets were now covered in a thick white soot. New York looked like a atomic bomb just hit it. White ash was all over everything, and the streets were littered in thousands of sheets of paper. Paramedics were all over the place, with oxygen tanks tending to people. People were also handing out water to clean out there eyes. A lot of people were covered in white. I stopped on a street corner to take a couple photos of the second tower, when all of the sudden it imploded with another loud bang, and collapsed. I got photos at a semi safe distance of it happening.
Now everybody was evacuating the city. Every pay phone had a long line of people all trying to call up friends and family. People everywhere had this look of confusion. People crying and braking down. People asking other people to use there cell phones so they can call friends and family. It was a scene out of a movie. The national guard, swat teams, police men with loaded shotguns, military vehicles, all showed up instantly in the downtown area. the media was all over the place, interviewing people. People were now evacuating downtown Manhattan on foot. The police were not letting anybody near the towers. The subways shut down and all bridges was packed with pedestrians all leaving the city.
When I got into Brooklyn (You could smell the smoke in the air even in Brooklyn) I went into a Wallgreens to get my photos developed. I went across the street into a bar to order a couple of strong drinks to calm my nerves and watch on the tube to see what was going on. A couple of people at the bar were also covered in white soot because they were also in the thick of it. This girl who sat next to me had her legs all bloody from the windows that shattered when she evacuated. When I went back to the Walgreens to pick up my photos. There was a bunch of people crowded around the photo book flipping through my photos. Its hard to tell but if you looked closely at a couple of them you can clearly see people jumping out of the windows. People were offering me money for my prints. I thought these people were really fucking sick for wanting to buy pictures of this. The girl that worked there didn’t charge me any for developing my pictures. (She thought I was crazy for going down there.) She was filling me in on what was going on, what she heard on the news.
It’s now 10pm here in Brooklyn and you can still see smoke coming from where the World Trade Center used to be. My eyes still sting, and the whole city is in shock. Nobody is allowed into Manhattan. And looking out at the city all you can see is ambulances rushing back and forth. We’ll see what New York is like tomorrow.
‐ Colby Buzzell