September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Email Text:September 11, 2001
8:09 p.m.

>To all concerned friends and family members:

Yes, I'm OK

I can't even begin to describe what I saw and
experienced today, it is beyond words.

I was sleeping on the seventh floor of my apartment,
just two blocks from the WTC when the first plane
struck. I jumped out of bed to see what was going on.
I thought it was a building fire at first, there was
alot of smoke in the sky and tons of office paper was
falling from the sky. Rather than watch safely from my
window, I grabbed my camera and headed to the street
to take some photos of what I thought might have been
building fire.

The scene on Greenwich St. outside my door was quickly
beginning to resemble chaos. There was debris raining
down on to the street and as I turned the corner onto Liberty St., I could not believe my eyes. There was a
gaping hole in the side of one of the towers. I was
clicking away and ran down a ramp of a parking garage
on Church St., directly across from the WTC to get a
safe vantage point. A few others had gathered to seek
shelter and scores of people were running out of the
WTC in all directions. Dozens and dozens of people
were jumping out of the upper floors of the tower. It
was horrific sight sight to see, and I was beginning
to realize how serious this was. It's hard to describe
what I was feeling, it was like watching the end of
the world, but it was nowhere near over.

I was focusing my lense up on the towers when I heard
a godawful thunderous sound that was approaching
rapidly closer. It was the second jet, and it sounded
as if the sky was being torn open. It struck the
second tower with such unbelievable speed and force,
ripping right through the building and exploding
through the other side. A huge ball of flames and
black smoke rolled up the side of the second tower and
tons of debris flew outward towards the street.
Hundreds of horrified people began running down the
parking garage ramp towards me to try and get away
from the debris. Only one problem: The metal garage
door was down. They began pounding on the door
frantically yelling for the door to be opened. It was
becoming obvious to me that I needed to get out of
there, fast. I will never forget the look of sheer
terror on these peoples faces.

I wasn't about to stay there at the parking garage and
face even more danger. I decided to make a run for it
to my apartment, a block and a half away. I never knew
what it felt like to "run for your life," now i do. I
ran south on Church St. with everything I had and
managed to escape the falling debris by running
between buildings. Again, the sounds; it seemed like
the end of the world. Sirens, car alarms, screams, and
pieces of the building crashing into the ground with
such force that the ground shook. Flaming debris was
falling far off to my left and right. Small pieces of
puverized concrete made it seem like a hailstorm.
Police were in the street screaming at people to "get
inside." I was in total shock, my mouth was completely
dry, and I've never known such fear in all of my life.
My heart was pounding through my chest and I was
frantically thinking of what to do next.

I ran into my apartment builing to get my three
friends out. At this point I thought we were under a
missle attack, and that there were more on the way. So
we all grabbed a few things, and made for the street.
Two of the girls, my friends Barbara and Natasha had
small dogs with them. We had to leave my friend
chani's cat behind, because it had hidden. We started
walking south on Greenwich and had planned to go to a
friend's apartment in Tribeca. I decided to stop in
the deli and get a few bottles of water for me and the
girls, just in case. Chani followed me into the store,
Barbara and Natasha stayed outside with their dogs.

As I paid for the waters, we heard another loud,
terrible roaring sound. There was a bar at the back of
the deli, and Chani and I made our way back into the
bar were about thirty other frightened people had come
to get off of the street. The ground shook and the
roaring sound seemed to get louder and louder. I
really thought we were in serious trouble. Next, the
shockwave from the collapsing tower came down the
street in the form of ash, smoke and debris, leaving
the street completely dark with ash.

More in Part II

Pete

Part II
Once in the bar, people became increasingly
hysterical as we endured the collapse of both towers
just two and a half blocks away. The ground shook as
though it were an earthquake, and the immense roar of
the buildings crashing to the ground is a sound I will
never forget. All those people, the loss of life that
occured at that moment is incomprehensible.

We were asked to evacuate the building by several ash
covered firemen, who gave us dust masks and instructed
us to head towards the Brooklyn Bridge. The ground and
everything outside was covered in two to three inches
of ash. The sky all around was as black as coal in
stark contrast to the light colored ash that almost
looked like freshly fallen snow. There was an eerie
silence except for the faint sound of sirens in the
distance. As Chani and I passed Trinity Church, an old
gothic looking church, the bells began tolling. It was
an eerie, ominous feeling. We marched on, passed the
Stock Exchanged and eventually made our out of the
smoke and ash,to safety.

Our friends, Barbara and Natasha, for whom we had
feared the worst, turned out to be okay. Apparently,
they were taken to a hospital in Newark and were doing
fine, which was great to hear. I was lucky enough to
catch an Amtrak train out of Penn Station and was
crossing my fingers until we got to the Jersey side.
As I looked back towards Manhattan, there was a plume
of smoke that stretched upward and outwards for miles
from were the WTC once stood.

I'm thankful to be alive.

- Pete

Email Date:September 11, 2001 8:09 p.m.

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