Covered by soot & debris
September 12, 2001
The coincidence of September 11 was frightening, since I was impacted also by the 93' bombing, having worked on the 61st floor of Tower 1 at the time.
Later the morning of September 11, I had a doctor's appointment near the World Trade Center, so as I usually do when I plan to be there, I always meet some of my old pals who still work there at our favorite coffee shop across the plaza.
I took the N train downtown and passed my intended stop at Cortland Street/WTC [I was reading some engrossing piece of trash], so I got off at the next stop at Rector Street, and started walking the two blocks to the World Trade Center.
Everyone was looking up, so I did too and saw the second plane crash into the building, and then people jumping out. No one could move, everyone was transfixed by what they were seeing. It felt like we were watching a re-run of Towering Inferno, but this was no movie, it was in front of us... but too difficult to take in.
They were setting up some emergency first aid areas as people were coming out of the building and I was assisting them. After about 15 minutes... or what seemed a moment in time... we heard and felt a rumble on the ground as if the bottom part of Manhattan was falling into the Hudson River.
Saw balls of fire and pieces of steel being thrown from this oncoming black Wall of smoke. It looked like a Tidal Wave. People started screaming "run for your life," the first tower had collapsed and hundreds of people were running.
It looked like a scene from one of those terrible Godzilla movies where people were trampling each other and cars were being demolished. I was afraid I'd be trampled or hit by the flying debris
.... adrenalin does strange things... even with a knee replacement... I was running the 500 yard dash at the Olympics. The next thing I remember, I was several blocks away near the Stock Exchange and covered with soot & debris, but OK.
Our heads were bloodied yet unbowed
Then the second tower crumbled and we ran more, again being engulfed by the smoke. Finally the running turned to fast walking and then just walking and we were getting past the heavy smoke.
I found myself walking up Water Street with one or two people next to me.
We stopped to get some water that people on the street were handing out. When I turned around I saw I was walking with at least 1,000 other people, an army of daily downtown workers; dazed, confused people, covered with soot, ripped clothes and blood.
I thought of a line from the poem Invictus.... "our heads were bloodied yet unbowed..."
I continued uptown, stopping at one of the paramedic stations & had my eyes washed out and got an albuteral treatment [my asthma was starting to rear its ugly head]. My companions and I parted: I continued uptown to Greenwich Village, one went over the bridge to Brooklyn, and the other tried to go West to Chelsea.
Even writing this I'm overcome with emotion and exhaustion and truly Terrified. We have F-16 jets patrolling over Manhattan constantly, but we're survivors and life goes on.
© Bonnie Lurie