#179 | Monday, October 1st, 2001
I was at work, listening to the radio and joking with my partner, like usual. The announcer broke into the broadcast to report a lone plane had flown into the side of the WTC. I remember thinking that was pretty terrible, and how on earth would they remove a plane from inside such a tall building. As they were speculating the reason and talking to passerby's and witnesses, the second plane forcefully and deliberately slammed into the other tower. At the moment that happened a woman was describing the incident of the first plane and all of a sudden she was hysterical, "another one just crashed into the other tower" she screamed as though the world went off its axis.

By that time I was in utter shock, astonishment was running through my mind and then the question as to whether or not this was a terrorist act came into play. I immediately made my mind up that it had to be. I sat scared and frantically pulling up websites for more recent news and pictures as my co workers formed around my desk in disbelief. Then the Pentagon was struck and I could not imagine what more these people were going to do. They were playing with no rules and anything could happen now.

I made a comment as to whether or not the WTC towers could stand a burning inferno for very long and within a few moments one was crumbling to the ground. Then went the other. I had never been more horrified in my life. I had been calling my mother giving her updates and she was already crying. I wanted so badly to cry right there at my desk. I could not imagine being able to complete my job that day I was in so much distress it had become visible on my face.

I heard that we were allowed to leave for the day to reflect, pray and be with family, so I left. As soon as the doors of the elevator shut behind me, I went hysterically into tears. I couldn't handle the amount of fear or sorrow running through my body. I never thought I would see the day when something so horrific would happen, but I have. I'm all the way in Florida and know no one in the WTC or the Pentagon and I am still profoundly effected by this, as everyone else is. I will never forget where I was or what I was doing the very moment the world came crashing down.
Victoria | 23 | Florida

#180 | Monday, October 1st, 2001
I attend was walking to my 9:30am class at Eastern Connecticut State University. As I neared the building it was held in, I saw a mob of students congesting the small lobby and spilling out the doors. I made my way inside wondering why so many were packed together, and then I looked up at the TV mounted high in the corner that was switched on for the first time that I can remember.

I was seeing live CNN coverage of reporters quickly flipping through pages of information, something about the World Trade Center. I read across the bottom of the screen that an airplane had crashed into one of the towers. I wandered on through the crowd and up the stairs to class, perplexed at what I'd briefly picked up.

An hour and fifteen minutes later I made my way back through the lobby that was now thick with solemness. Dozens and dozens of heads turned upwards at the TV with emotionless faces. The second tower had been destroyed. I didn't know what to think or how to feel. I spent the rest of the day in a haze, trying to soak up as much information as I could and contacting family to make sure noone was hurt. I was lucky. My prayers go to those less fortunate.
Justin Beechwood | 20 | Connecticut

#181 | Monday, October 1st, 2001
I normally stroll into work on the 17th floor of the World Trade Center (Tower 2) around 9:15am. Around 9am on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was on the express bus going to work and we had just gotten to the toll plaza of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel when someone exclaimed that there was smoke coming from the world trade center.

I looked up from my book to see a huge plume of smoke blowing south east off of WTC 1. I am one of the fire wardens on my floor and my first reaction was to grab my cell phone to make sure my co-workers knew what was going on and that they were getting out of the office. The answering message picked up. Someone reported that a plane had hit WTC 1. We all began to talk about it thinking it was a small commuter style plane or even a stunt plane that had had an accident. There are many stupid people who have tried stunts involving the WTC and we speculated this was one gone horribly wrong. I saw what at the time I thought was a helicopter go towards and behind the buildings.

I was trying to call my husband and was looking at my phone when I heard faint thunder. Someone screamed. I looked up to see a huge ball of orange fire, like a mini atomic blast, engulf the top quarter of MY building. I remember exclaiming "Oh my God! I work there!" and then the bus got very dark. After a split second of panic I realized it was because we had just entered the Battery Tunnel (the bus was an older model with small windows and the driver had the internal lights off). With one voice we, the passengers, began screaming to the bus driver - "Stop! Don't go in! Where did he think he was going anyway?" He kept driving forward.

He stopped after a minute or two, when the traffic ground to a halt. We were stuck, could not go forwards or back. The last thing any of us had seen was Hell being unleashed on our friends and colleagues (this was a downtown only bus - all the passengers worked in the financial district). Panic and confusion broke out. My cell phone had a signal, but I could not get a line out to call anyone. People were screaming that we were being bombed, yelling at the driver to let them out of the bus or to back out. I truly thought I was going to die - underground and in the dark.

Every day, twice a day, I passed through this tunnel, 150 feet below the river - and at least a few times a week would morbidly daydream about what might happen if a terrorist attack occurred while I was down there. Wouldn't taking out the river crossings be a logical attack pattern sure to cause many deaths and wreak long-term havoc? My worst-case scenarios normally included rushing fire enveloping and flooding water crushing everything in its path. I was terrified that I was about to find out if my predictions were right. My world narrowed to trying to dial my cell phone and chanting in my head "Get us out of here, get us out of here, get us out of here..."

A lot of the passengers were crowding the driver yelling at him or pleading with him to let them off the bus. Some were trying to make calls, I heard one woman praying. I don't remember anyone crying. I have no memory of the driver making any sort of an announcement to us or giving us any information. I got very angry with him one minute and then the next thought how horrible for him, just a regular Joe, driving his bus and suddenly he holds the lives of 30 people in his hands.

After a while the driver, without saying a word to us, left the bus. While we all assumed he was going to try and get some info on what he should do, we were all mad that he had left without a word. A few passengers tried to open the door, but the driver had somehow secured it.

An SUV came towards us from the Manhattan side. One of the passengers got into the busdriver's seat and began honking the horn. The SUV paused by the driver's window. Word began to filter back through the bus that the towers had been struck by commercial jetliners and that city was under attack and being bombed.

I was now certain I was going to die and heard a roaring in my ears, felt a squeezing in my chest and my face and extremities got all pins and needley. I began to ask the other passengers with phones if they could get a call out because I needed to speak to my husband. No one was getting out although everyone kept trying. I didn't want to die without being able to say good-bye!

We must have been in the tunnel about 45 - 50 minutes when we felt the tunnel vibrate. In my mind's eye I imagined a huge white cloud rushing through the tunnel at us like in movies I had seen about nuclear holocausts. Later I saw replays of the collapse on TV and the clouds of dust and debris rushing through the canyon-like downtown streets looked just what I had pictured in my head. I realized then that the vibration I had felt was Tower 2 collapsing, but at the time it happened I was clueless and thought the tunnel was going to break up.

Just after that, the driver returned to the bus and began to back us out of the tunnel. We cheered him then - let me tell you! I was never so relieved as when I saw daylight beginning to filter in the windows. We cleared the tunnel and we applauded our driver as he began to turn the bus back into Brooklyn. Cell phones began to ring, but still no one could get a call out. We all noticed a huge white cloud just beginning to spread out over the toll plaza from across the river. Looking into it I saw something sparkly all through the plume that was heading towards us. "What is that shit?" I said pointing and just then a lady on the her cell phone cried out that the Pentagon had been bombed and the man in the seat in front of me said that WTC 2 had collapsed.

That news sort of went in one ear and out the other as I thought they meant the top that was burning had come away. The word 'war' began to be tossed around and I wondered aloud if the sparkly cloud I had seen was maybe poison gas (it was in fact a mix of fiberglass, asbestos, metal, glass and paper from the WTC 2 collapse - we are getting papers in lawns here from the explosion, I'm tempted to see if any are from my office - NOT). The driver sped through side streets as I continued to try to get through to my husband, Gerry. Finally we came to my stop and I ran home. I was shaking like a leaf and dashed to the house phone. I dialed my husband's work number and turned the TV on to NY1. The clock on my cable box said 10:25.

There was a picture on the screen of what looked like the same image I had first seen from the bus - smoke pouring from the top of WTC 1. I did not see WTC 2 but assumed it was due to the angle of the shot, which was from the north. I was not listening to the audio since the phone was connecting my call.

Gerry answered the phone. "I'm OK," I blurted out. He began to sob immediately. We spent a minute frantically re-assuring each other we were OK and then I had to hang up to call everyone else. I tried my parents in FL but got a circuit busy signal. I knew I could reach them online so tried to call Barbara (my birth Mother) in the Bronx. She picked up and was freaking out. I was staring at the TV reassuring her that I was Ok, when suddenly Tower 1 collapsed. I remember screaming "Oh my God!" and then the realization hit me that there was nothing BEHIND WTC 1. I began to scream incoherently into the phone - "it's gone!" and "everyone I know is dead!" The next thing I knew I was sitting on the floor by my bathroom and sobbing and gasping. Barbara was shouting through the phone, which I had dropped at some point - I'm sure she thought I was under attack or dying. I was pretty hysterical. I had not comprehended what I had heard earlier when they said that WTC 2 had collapsed. How could I comprehend it? It was incomprehensible! There were things I needed to bring home from my cubicle, my pets (2 frogs and a crab) needed to be fed and my plants watered! I spent more time in that place than I did in my own home - how could it be GONE?!

When I could halfway function again I told her I was not hurt but that all my friends might be dead and hung up on her. Not the best thing to do, but I was hardly thinking straight. I began to page through my cell phone's directory, praying I had someone from work's home number in it. I had one number; I had to dial 5 times before the call got through. I asked for Gygi and, praise the Goddess, she was there. She sounded as bad as I did and I asked if she had been there. She then realized who she was speaking to and told me yes and that everyone had gotten out. "But, did they get away?" I asked. Gygi said she did not know because she ran for the Brooklyn Bridge the second she got to the street. Before she hung up she re-assured me that everyone HAD gotten out. I sobbingly thanked her and told her how glad I was she was alive.

I then tried my folks in FL again and got through this time.

Still shaking, I next thought of my 2 best friends, one of whom works at Verizon across from Tower 1. I knew his habits and knew he would have been getting to work around the same time I normally do. I could not raise him on any of his contact numbers and even went to his apartment down the hall on the off chance he was home. No luck, so I went downstairs to my other best friend's door. I knew she had no reason to be in the downtown area so I was not concerned for her safety as much as I needed to have someone with me. There was no answer from her door either.

I was beginning to feel the waves of bad panic threaten to overwhelm me again and knew I needed to be DOING something. I grabbed my laptop and got online and began to contact everyone on my work address book to try and locate my friends and co-workers in the building. I began connecting to folks and we began to spin an info web, with me in the center. One by one folks checked in safely. The home office in London left me a voice message asking me to call in if I was able - they were doing a head count of survivors from across the ocean. We swapped info on whom we had found and my spirits began to climb as the number grew.

This continued into Wednesday. I dropped into bed around 5:30am Wednesday and was back online less than 2 hours later, trying to locate people, keep communications flowing and making sure my online campus was still running and my clients' needs were covered. Other friends from the WTC began to check in as well and I began to ride a real high. By 6pm Wednesday we had accounted for all our people and only 3 had been injured enough to need immediate medical attention, but essentially, we were whole.

I have lost people I know in this tragedy and many people I care about have been scarred for life, but I am grateful to be alive and very grateful that I work with a very smart bunch of people who did not wait to be told to get out.

Maxime | 38 | New York

#182 | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2001
I was driving into NYC and had just pulled into the parking lot near our uptown office when I heard that a plane had crashed into the WTC. I thought it was a small plane, perhaps a navigational error. The time was 8:53. I got on the elevator and went upstairs. My officemate arived crying and said another plane had crashed into the WTC. We both rushed to the other side of the building where we could see the WTC burning. I could not believe that it was real.

My dh works across the river, and he saw the second plane crash and both towers collapse. He was very scared for my safety and urged me to go home.

We all rushed into an office with a tv and watched the scenes unfold. There were many rumors, the plane crash at the Pentagon, the plane crash in PA, a truck stopped on the George Washington Bridge filled with explosives. All turned out to be true. The office announced we could go home. But the city was basically sealed off, no tunnels or bridges open, no buses or trains running.

I decided to drive north into Westchester County and went over the Tappan Zee Bridge. When I got to the other side, I was never so thankful to be in NJ in my life.

My life has totally changed now. Every trip into NYC brings memories of that day, fears of the tunnels I ride through each day on the train and subway, fear everytime the trains stop. Getting around is more difficult now, and people are still walking around looking shell-shocked. Every day I see the "Missing" posters on street lights, then open my newspaper and read obituaries about the same missing persons. Life will never be the same.
Lisa | 41 | New York

#183 | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2001
I was walking into work in Philadelphia.

I love my country.
I fear my government.
Ezra | 29 | Pennsylvania

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