September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11/01..."New York in Chaos"

I wrote this on the night of 9/11/01. Time stamp on this document was 9:30PM. I wrote it because at that time, I was trying to make sense of it all. Some of you might've seen it already, I e-mailed this to those who were asking how we were doing. I'm sharing this today. Like everyone, I remember that day clearly.

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New York in chaos

The day started normally for me. I woke up ahead of Euge, took a bath then got ready for work. Euge normally drops me off at the subway station close to his work, but today, everything was messed up with our schedule. Everywhere we went, nothing but traffic.

Euge & I parted ways about 8:45. I took a cab to get to the UN as my work starts at 9. The cab driver was tuned in to a Spanish radio station. I understood enough Spanish (thank goodness) to know that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. At that time, only one plane had crashed. I arrived in the office at 9 a.m. I saw the thick black smoke from my office window. By 9:30, they were telling us to go either to the basement or outside the UN building. I grabbed my backpack and started running up to the 34th floor where my other officemates were. Then we waited for the elevators, only to find out that they turned off all elevators. Led by the director of our Division, we started going down the stairs. Imagine walking from 32nd floor all the way up the 34th floor, then finally going down to the first floor using the staircase! By the time we reached the first floor, my legs were shaking out of both fear and exhaustion. Only goes to show you, it’s not a good idea to work in skyscrapers.

We stayed outside the lawn waiting for further instructions. Around past 10, we were told to go home. Right then and there, one of the lawyers in our office, Nicola, pulled me aside and told me we should go home immediately. There were no trains, no buses, and no means of leaving the city except by foot. What happened next seemed like something out of a movie. People were all walking in the streets, in droves, some scared, but most with shocked expressions on their faces. Other vehicles were in a rush to get out of the city. Everyone in the streets had cellular phones glued to their ears, to no avail. No cell phone signals, no phone service, nothing to keep you in touch with those you hold dear. Whenever we'd hear a noise that resembles an aircraft, I would look up and think of what I'll do if it turned out to be another plane ready to crash on to another building.

I walked the streets of Manhattan from 42nd Street to 59th Street, and then crossed the Queensboro Bridge, finally reaching Long Island City where Euge works. It took hours. Unfortunately, I had no idea where his work was. I called him from a payphone but got his voice mail. I told him where we were and he eventually found me. Then we went to drop off my two office mates. It was an unsettling scene that greeted us on the streets. The streets were crowded with people! Some people were holding up signs to passing vehicles indicating where they were headed, hoping for a ride.

While on the Queensboro Bridge, we kept looking back to where the World Trade Center used to be. It saddens me terribly. They changed not only the landscape of Manhattan, but also the very core of us. How can this have happened? How come it was not prevented? How many lives were lost in such a senseless act of violence?

I'm not saying the US should be exempt from such occurrences. What outrages me is the audacity of those who planned this and successfully executed this. LIVES were lost, numerous lives whose only mistake had been (a) to board the aircrafts; (b) to go to work; or (c) to see WTC.

Mayor Giuliani said in a press conference tonight that we should treat tomorrow in the same way we treat snowstorms - do not go to the city unless you really have to.

In my mind, everything’s in a standstill. It's so unreal. The thought that keeps running in my mind is, "It's like a movie."

But only a bad movie will allow two buildings to collapse the way the World Trade Center did. Only a bad movie will allow people to DIE this way. Only a bad movie will create such a perfect setting - sunny day, clear skies - just to let two monstrous aircrafts ram straight into buildings with thousands of people inside.

It was frightening.

I'm still shaken, definitely shaken.

Please pray for us here.