Friday, September 11, 2009

Following is my late uncle's recount (re-recount ?) of his son-in-law's recount of escaping the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Many of us from across the country and around the world were fairly desperate for information about loved ones in NYC, the Pentagon & just flying that day.

We can report at least one bit of good news about Sept. 11, 2001, another day of infamy suffered by our nation - Carol, George and family are safe.
George, however, had a harrowing experience as he escaped from the 83rd Floor of the WTC's north tower, the second one to fall. He and about 35 others in his area felt the impact of the explosion and left immediately, only to find a door to the nearest stairway jammed because the building already was askew. When they got it open, they were met by a firefall which they apparently dodged, but the stairs were ablaze. George finally found another stairway, but it led only to the lobby on the 78th Floor. No one seemed to know where the stairs continued. There was no panic, he relates, but it took some time for him to find steps leading down. On the way down he and others had to stop to let the seriously burned walk on ahead. On about the 40th Floor, they met firemen climbing up the stairs and carrying heavy firefighting equipment. They offered water and paper towels to act as masks for those descending the steps, but these firemen continued up--probably to perish.
George eventually reached the Second Floor, but no one could find an exit or other steps down. He went back to the Fifth Floor, losing another five minues, but found another set of steps leading to an exit.
Fortunately, he had a Westchester cell phone (cell phones to NYC towers did not operate), and he called Carol to say he was out of the building, but his call was soon "beeped out." He walked north through gray ash and debris to 14th Street, still not knowing exactly what had occurred, because dust blurred the area around the crumbled towers. He called Carol again and learned for the first time that his entire building had fallen.
He made his way to Grand Central Station (which I think is about five miles from the WTC site) only to find the building closed--proably for security reasons. In a moment, however, a door opened and those outside were told all trains leaving the city through tunnels were cancelled. Only trains going north over a bridge could leave. He finally got a train to White Plains and was home by late afternoon. You can imaging everyone's relief when Carol was able to report that he was safe.
To some extent--the extent that scarce and jammed phone lines would allow--Carol had kept us and his family in Akron advised throughout the day, but it was a great relief to know he had actully made it to safety. We talked with him last night. He is a little shaken by the experience, but he said he was going back to the city today to meet with the president of his company and others.
Of course we are happy to report the good news, but we are saddened by the terrible things that have happened to other families ... and our country.

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