I remember working an over night radio shift that ended at 5:30am. My normal routine was to check email in my office after I got off the air and chat with friends that lived in New York through AOL messenger while I was online. It was already 8:30am east coast time and none of my friends’ AOL messenger handles were active. I didn’t think anything of it. I finished what I was doing, turned off the computer and packed my stuff and went home which was about 10 minutes away.
I must have been asleep for about 5 minutes and was awakened by my children’s aunt yelling for everyone in the house to turn on the TV. As soon as the image came onto the screen we couldn’t believe what were were looking at. The 1st plane had hit The World Trade Center and minutes later we watched the 2nd plane hit the other tower live on CNN. The smoke was filling up the buildings and soon were up in flames and the emotions I was feeling, to this day, cannot be expressed in words. I kept thinking there are people in there!! Childrens’ mothers and fathers are in there! Sons and daughters, friends, loved ones are in danger.
I tried to call ALL of my friends that I knew lived in New York but the phone lines were jammed. I knew they worked in the heart of New York city but wasn’t sure what building or how far away they were from this horrible act of terrorism. My former roommate, Ken, was working for the New York Police Department at the time and I tried calling him and the family but the phones lines were still out of order (and would be for the next few days.)
CNN continued to report how FDNY and NYPD and paramedics were running up the towers to try and save people and get them to safety. People were desperate to get out of the World Trade Center and video of people in the towers jumping out of windows had to have been one of the saddest things I had seen along with the Twin Towers when they actually collapsed, also live on all news outlets.
The pandemonium was absolutely insane. Footage of people running every which way. The fact of knowing that thousands of people were still in the buildings as they collapsed and all of the fire fighters and police officers and paramedics that died trying to save all of those lives as the towers came crashing down.
There was footage of people running and trying to get across the Brooklyn Bridge or just anywhere far from the World Trade. One thing I do remember seeing was the only people that weren’t running away but rather toward all of the burning rubble were the first responders. Everyone was covered in dust, ash, and soot dodging debris from the sky and on the ground. New York looked like a war zone as did the area around the Pentagon because a plane crashed into it as well! I remember thinking along with the rest of America if another plane was going to come from somewhere in the sky it would probably come for the White House. Thankfully that didn’t happen although the other hijacked plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania!!
Hours had already passed and more photos would come up on the screen of those looking for their loved ones. I paid close attention to see if there was any news of my friends or if I could spot Ken on TV helping the victims in his city. Ken is a veteran of the United States Marines and I know for a fact that he would be first on the scene to respond to anything. I didn’t see him on any of the reports and I still didn’t know if him or any of my other friends were alive.
There was no sleeping that day or night. I had my air shift at 2am the following day we were instructed to run CNN updates instead of music. My intern at the time, Drew, called me at about 11pm to ask me if I needed any help in the studio. I said yes as I was not sure how crazy things could get and if need be I would have help in checking all of the news wires and new outlets. I remember residents of the Bay were nervous and thoughts of terrorist attacks were on our minds too. What about the Transamerica building, or the Golden Gate bridge our airports?? Were we in danger?
2am September 12, 2001 rolled around, not even 24 hours after the attacks and the phone lines were busy with listeners just wanting to talk and vent and express their sadness and concern for humanity.
I will write more in a few hours. Writing about this still gets me and I still haven’t called Jennifer,James, Maddie or Ken yet as I try to every year. I will back in a few… I will finish my blog. Give a me some time.