September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Local Union:32BJ

Story:Ivan Almendarez was a maintenance worker in Building 1 of the World Trade Center. 'I usually work on the concourse, but I was in the basement, charging up my radio and getting some supplies, when the first plane hit,' Ivan said. P>'The impact was so great, everything just paused. I looked up and waited for the ceiling to collapse. When I saw the whole building move, and the walls were still standing, I thought the ceiling would collapse on us. So, we all threw ourselves under the tables. P>'My supervisor and I helped a worker out. He was so badly burned. It was terrible. He had no skin on his face or his hands,' Ivan said. P>'My wife is 8 months pregnant. I found a phone outside to call home. That's when I found out it was a plane,' Ivan said. Prior to speaking with his wife, Ivan thought that terrorists had bombed the building. Upon discovering that a plane crashed, Ivan thought it was an accident. When the second plane crashed, Ivan knew that terrorists had struck. P>'We saw the other tower get hit. Everyone was crying. We already knew that we were losing people. Even though my wife wanted me to come right home, I couldn't leave until I found out what happened to my coworkers,' Ivan said. He looked on as the first tower unexpectedly crumbled. P>'It came down so fast, like a big cloud of smoke was coming at us. I started to go in the building (Chase Manhattan 1), when the blast blew me in the doors. The air was heavy, so heavy you couldn't breathe. Finally I took my chances and left to go home. When I came outside, it was like it snowed inches,' Ivan said. P>Ivan's wife also worked in the building. With husband and wife out of work, and a baby due in weeks, the young couple worries about their future. 'We just signed a lease on a new apartment before this happened. Now I don't know if we can afford it,' Ivan said. P>Despite his own problems, Ivan has been working to help other 32BJ members. He volunteered to serve on one of the teams of union members and staff who visited the families of members who are missing. The teams offer the families support and assistance. P>'I just want to help,' Ivan said, fighting back tears as he talked about the difficult visits.


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