i worked at nyu in the village.
on 9/12 i went to work. there was no one there. so i started walking towards downtown.
i got stuck on canal and west end ave. i didn’t realize until a cop came by that i was in a group of reporters who were also blocked at that point. the cop took the group (and me) closer. it was still far so i walked away but i couldn’t walk back as the cops were blocking.
so i walked east into the city. the streets were empty and i walked to the tribeca bridge (i think that’s what it’s called; by the financial center). i sat on the bridge watching everything when the cops realized the bridge was probably the best place there to see and control the entire area west of the wtc.
they kicked us out of there.
with no place else to go i was asked to help the salvation army with food distribution. i didn’t think twice and agreed but i didn’t realize what it meant.
i got in the van.
the van went first past police, then past the army then from the east and south side (making a huge circle) i found myself at ground 0 (corner of church and liberty i think it was. almost immediately i lost the 3-4 salvation army people. i guess they put the food down and went back to get more. never saw them again in the next 3 days.
they had turned the burger king into the temp NYPD head quarters.
i had a small camera with me.
i started with distributing food and drinks. but the men-at-work (there were almost no civilians around, no police, no army; just firemen and me) didn’t have time or desire to get off ‘the pile’ to go into the burger king to eat and drink so I went out on the pile; you know, where cnn showed the flag the firemen put in the middle of the pile. that’s the place i went.
at one point i didn’t have any more of what to distribute so in my computer job work clothes i started on the bucket lines picking, lifting, passing, etc.
points i remember:
- sitting in the burger king for a short rest (hours and hours went by and you didn’t realize how tired you got) when a horrible smell came by. i asked the fireman next to me what it was and he said ‘didn’t you see the body bag that just went under your nose?’
- the running off the piles every time there was a rumble and screams that another building was going to come down; one time i remember i ran so fast i passed a german shepherd that was used as sniffing canine; they would scream ‘canine’ whenever a body (always dead) was found).i remember the first time there was a stampeded off the pile i didn’t know where to run or why everyone was running and within a few seconds found myself standing alone on the corner of church and liberty(?) the corner closest to wtc where the burger king was (NYPD temp headquarters.
- standing at the very edge of the pit and looking down the huge pit. got a picture of that.
- not being able to breath with the mask nor off.
- coughing up stuff nights when i got back.
- i remember trying to find food and drink (before the masses of deliveries came) in the restaurants and shops. indescribable. no lights in all these places, thick with sut, etc. couldn’t breathe in any of the places we walked into. there were bars, restaurants, etc. we took whatever we could grab with a milk crate and carried back to the burger king (NYPD hq).
- they were using the fridges (very big) of hq to store bodies.
the first night i tried to leave ground zero i offered my gloves and mask (were hard to get a hold of at that point and needed badly ) to a group of businessmen looking men just entering the site. they said no thanks and after a few steps away i realized it was the mayor and a few people with him leading him in. you couldn’t tell important people from non-important people as it was quite the chaos.