Community Member shares impacts of living and working near New York around September 11, 2001
9-11 is a day I will truly never forget. I was working as an IT Tech for a financial company and my main office was in Jersey City, NJ directly across the water from the World Trade Center. I managed communications for multiple locations and we had a sister company in the Trade Center, Morgan Stanley.
I was in the computer room when I received a call to check all communications as a plane had hit one of the towers and we have communication lines going through the towers. Note there was usually a lot of small planes/helicopters that fly low and I always wondered how we never have had an air collision there as I have seen so many close calls. I just assumed at this point, this is what happened and went about my work. I checked and at that moment everything was working. I went to a window where I had full view of the towers and realized this was not a small plane or helicopter that randomly hit the tower.
As I stood there, I see a plane heading directly for the second tower. I could see its path, knew exactly where it was going. At that moment is when the first phase of helplessness kicked in. There was nothing we could do to stop it. As it ripped through that tower my heart and all the hearts of those around me just stopped. We are under attack.
Moments later, fighter jets came overhead from behind our building; we all kind of covered our heads and ducked because we thought for a moment it was a plane ready to rip through our building. We were all in shock. The day was crystal clear and the view of these two buildings left nothing to the imagination. I could see everything including the people jumping to get away from the flames/heat.
My best friend worked in the building directly next to the South Tower. We rode the train to work together that morning as we did every morning. Her office windows were blown out. I couldn’t get her on the phone. All communications were tied up. As the South tower came crashing down, I just stood there. No one said a word. I eventually said to my boss, I am leaving. As I was leaving the building, there were men coming in to evacuate the building dressed in riot gear. They said our building was a potential target.
I started just walking. I normally took the path train to Hoboken then catch another train to my hometown to get home. All transportation was shut down. I lived more than an hour’s drive from work. I just walked. At some point, one of my coworkers, saw me walking and gave me a lift to where my car was parked at the train station in my hometown. The ride was long and silent. There were about 5 of us in the car. No one said a word. I kept trying to get my friend on the phone.
As I got to my car, I saw my friend. She got out, against advice from her building security to stay put when the first plane hit. Had she stayed in her office, she probably would not have survived. Her office was pretty much torn up. We just held each other.
The next 6 months for me were pure hell. I didn’t sleep well. That day kept coming back to me in my sleep every night. As I watched the plane rip through the tower I would jump in my bed and usually let a scream or two out as I am told. I stopped taking mass transit because of all the rumors of more attacks. Once the planes started flying again, I stopped seeing them as planes. I simply saw torpedos in the sky.
My primary put me on Zoloft and encouraged me to seek counseling. I didn’t think anyone could help get these images out of my head and refused the counseling but I did take the Zoloft which helped a little. I drove my poor teenage daughter crazy. I needed to know where she was every second in case something happened and I needed to get her.
About 6 months from 9-11, I was driving home from work across the Pulaski Skyway. It is right by Newark Airport and there is one spot on the bridge that if a plane was landing coming from the North, it would appear the plane was going to hit the bridge. It is something I saw every day, but would still take my breath away if a plane came in while I was on that bridge.
Now, I was on the bridge, stuck in that very spot due to heavy traffic. There was a bus in front of me. As traffic was just starting to move, here comes a plane to land. As the bus in front of me began to move, it backfired. I freaked out. I stepped on the gas and almost drove off the bridge. I stopped just shy of hitting the cement barrier. I literally got out of my car and just sat in the middle of the bridge, in the middle of all these vehicles.
All I could do was just sit there and cry. Before I knew it all of these people got out of their cars to console me. I really don’t remember much of what was said to me, but at that moment, I felt two things. One: I felt safe, for the first time in six months. Two: I was angry as hell that I allowed these mass murderers to get to me. It was at that moment that I actually began to heal.