Friday, September 14, 2001

Hi All... Last night I spent some time putting together a website of my photo experiences during this whole thing. There isn't much up there yet. Just Pentagon pictures... a few are pretty good. I am going visit some of the "national" places in the city this weekend and take more pictures of patriotism, etc...

Photo Website

Thursday, September 13, 2001

The post below was made to a website I regularly read... swerdloff.com It's maintained by Jon Swerdloff who has taken it upon himself to get his friends and family in contact with one another via his website and regular emails... his efforts are timestaking but I am sure have brought relief to many worried people and yet another example of the aid to one another taking place across the country. Some of us are just able to hang flags from our windows, personally I think what ever each one of us can do-- helps... the account below is from a post Corey-Ellen Nadel, a New York EMT, which was made to Swerdloff's site. It is buried amongst other posts, but poignant enough I wanted to use it as my the New York side of my record of events. Hopefully niether minds...

Date: Thu Sep 13 00:33:41 CDT 2001

Cory-Ellen Nadel

From:

Said:

I'm an EMT, and was there today to provide medical attention to survivors and emergency workers.

What you see on TV is not an exaggeration. It doesn't even give a full impression of the devastation. Not just the WTC, but buildings for six blocks in every direction are all blasted open - windows shattered - for at least a mile in all directions, dust and debris lying two feet thick over everything. Chairs are sitting outside of restaurants, bicycles are still chained to parking meters - everything covered in the same grey snow.

For those of you who know New York, you wouldn't recognize it. I didn't. And when you come across a familiar landmark, it shocks you. You can't imagine that this is really the same place. The ancient graveyard on Rector Street is littered with papers, files from the decimated office buildings, silent in the fluttering dust. When the ambulance I was riding in drove north to drop someone at Penn Station, I was honestly startled to see Astor Place, and Broadway. I couldn't believe that I could go from the war zone to normalcy so quickly.

The most terrifying part of the day was when I was hanging out in the triage center, doing my EMT thing, and suddenly heard, "Go, go, go!" Turned to see people flooding off the wreckage of the Towers, into the building where I was. We all ran for the back of the building, but the door was blocked, so we jumped out the window. I didn't know why I was running, but I had no choice - a flood of people carries you as surely as water. Out the window, and running down the street, blocks and blocks, jumping the debris piles and running. Finally we slowed. I turned around to see what I was running from; the tall building next to the triage center was swaying. Apparently some of its internal floors had collapsed, and they were afraid the whole building would go. We were pulled back for couple of hours, and while we were out two *different* buildings went down. I heard two popping sounds, and then someone said two buildings had just fallen. Pop. The other popping sounds we heard were from the guns of police officers trapped in the building. It's still burning under there - the heat exploded their ammunition. At least, that's what we think.

As for the work I did, well, there wasn't much of it. I washed out firemen's eyes (the dust is really awful - full of fiberglass, asbestos and concrete), taped up ankles, administered oxygen. I wish I could tell you I treated survivors. I didn't. There weren't any to treat while I was there - seven hours. Other than the abovementioned work, I moved bodies. And pieces of them. I'm not going to describe all of what I saw and did and thought. I know some of you don't want to know, and the ones who do can ask me. But I've been in three morgues today, and it took a half-hour shower with scented soap to make me stop inhaling the stench of death.
Um... so I did an interview for the Minnesota Daily, the U of M school newspaper yesterday... I figured I'd get a quote in an article... NOPE... It's an article about my experience...

Ha ha...

Story about me in DC
I forgot at the end of my previous post to express my condolences to those people directly and indirectly affected by this. I am not sure what the course of my writing about this will be. I hope I can continue to express my grief appropriately while also reminding myself that this is an excellent learning experience. I am being the reporter, recording my observations. As my experience with the couple in vigil, it hits me hard in an emotional way quite often too.

I also forgot to mention that there were amazing people who had brought food and drink for the press. Two mothers (one a flight attendant) had brought pizza and cookies. A woman from Argentina had brought homemade muffins. The Salvation Army was treating the press to candy, coffee, cookies, water and sandwiches. It was just a small sign and perhaps insignificant sign of the way people are pulling together.
There are lots of things in my life, especially things that affect a large group of people that I can stay apathetic to. Not in this case, not after yesterday. All of the ways that people are expressing disbelief and grief that might someday be trite I am experiencing.

Yesterday, I went into working thinking that my “garbage” organization would be far away from all of this and I would go to work the same as I would go flip burgers. I was jealous of my peers spending their day at CNN or NBC. I walked into Chaos. It didn’t occur to me that many members of our organization in addition to our CEO are experts on how to clean up this mess. Our CEO estimates that there is 1.25 million tons of debris as a result of the disaster in New York and at the Pentagon. We spent the day figuring out how to get some of our members together under the head of SWANA to help as well as get word out to the press that we have an expert in this field. We were cranking out press releases and writing letters from the CEO all day.

At about 5:30, I went home and grabbed tennis shoes so I could go try to talk to the press at the Pentagon and hand out press releases. I obviously couldn’t get off the metro at the Pentagon (you could only get off the train with proper ID) but could at Pentagon City (a mall and bunch of apartments) There were police on all the cross streets to the Pentagon not allowing people through. I have a feeling it was just to alleviate the ability for people who were half interested in getting closer to do so. They certainly weren’t keeping us away from every direction. I talked to a trooper and he told me where the press was, that he couldn’t let me through that way but if I really wanted to I could go around and under the freeway down the road and jog back to where the press was camped out.

I started walking. I was sort of following a family on bikes that kept sending the dad down various roads to see if he could get through. I had my trusty map and he and I finally figured out exactly where we were. I ended up hiking up a steep hill to a bridge over the road we were on and walking down the freeway entrances to the road that lead directly to the Pentagon. It was getting dark and as I approached from a higher point I stopped dead. I could see the American flag that had been hung just hours before. Then I could see the gaping hole. I was stunned. I stood and just looked at it for a moment trying to register that this was real and this was horrible and awful. I could still see a thin trail of smoke coming from the roof. My heart lurched and I got the same set of chills I had been getting since I turned on the radio on Tuesday morning.

The presses were all staked out at a gas station less than a half-mile away. There was a mix of reporters and public there to witness what was happening. There were police sort of keeping people away from the main press (all the big guys) who were in front of the gas station instead of behind it and more on the road. There were affiliates standing up on the hill… I am not sure if it was first come first serve or if there was some sort of priority going on. There was a set of stairs down to the main press line and the gas station that the public never tried to breach. Not sure why. There weren’t police or official people trying to stop the public from walking down. People would sort of dip their toes into the vicinity of the stairs but wouldn’t go down. I had a bunch of papers and was still dressed in work clothes save for my tennis shoes.

I just pretended I knew what I was doing and walked on down. I walked the line talking to people, press and others like me. We all just expressed our grief and talked about what it was like to be working out here and what our day had been like. I sat down with an NBC group and watched the national news with them. I also watched a variety of reporters do the 10pm news from the scene. This group wasn’t too interested in the clean-up yet and so I sort of held on to the press releases.

Eventually I wandered up the hill and went to talk to the radio and newspaper people sitting in their cars. They listened to my pitch and took the press release. I think I got the CEO a few radio interviews. Then the coldness I had been able to put on so I could work through was broken. I approached a man and a woman. The man’s best friend had an office where there is now a hole… the woman was that man’s wife. They haven’t heard from him. The only information they can get is from the press and they had been out there all night and day. I talked to him for a few minutes trying to express any condolence I could. You could tell he just needed to talk. I thought it was emotional to see the sad stories on TV. It is too much to even speak of to put my hand on someone’s shoulder and look into his eyes. I walked away and stood there crying. It hit me. All day I had been hearing stories of people affected. Seeing someone’s best friend waiting for nothing good, not knowing what else to do made it real, all too real. He was carrying a HUGE coffee mug and it some how seemed significant. I don’t know why, but I may forget his face, but never his eyes or his fingers worrying the handle of the mug.
I can't process yet. I spent the evening in the front press lines and the Pentagon. Someone said it felt perversly voyeuristic... it was. I've had immense waves of emotion as I went from trying to do my job talking to the press and trying not to break down and cry after talking to those on vigil waiting for probably fatal news about thier family. I promise to write more when I understand and can explain it to myself and also post pictures ASAP.

Love and Prayers to all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Back to the "Attack on America"-- I so wonder coined that one... I now sort of wish I was working at one of the papers or a network. I can't imagine the environment at CNN or any of the other new orgs. in DC.

The girls came home from school and were telling accounts of people that they new who had someone close to any of the terrorism. Supposedly one father has an office in the trade center and was in the Marriot at the bottom until he decided on a whim to come home last night, late. And the neighbor boy, Schyler's bestfriend, was in the plane at the gate next to the one that crashed into the Pentagon. His plane was grounded before take off.... I am sure, that with the Winstead's place in DC "society", they will know people involved.

Other interesting observations included the way the people on the web have united, especially in NY. I read a few journals of New Yorkers, and although cell phones and land lines were down, high bandwith internet was working. These people were putting up places on their websites for friends to check in to make sure they were alright. It's been interesting to watch that community form. Fortunately, I haven't read of any tragedy from that side of things, except for the woman who WATCHED the plane crash into the Trade Center and it subsequently fall down while she stood on the roof of her Brooklyn loft.

Mom also emailed me and said that Steve McDermid, who's family lives across the street from mine,was working in the fray of everything at his brand-new job in New York. He's okay, but I think there were at least two scared Sweetwater mom's for a time.

While mentioning such, I should send my well wishes and thoughts out to any of my other friends and family who have people close to them that are at all involved in such a scary event. Revising the statement, well wishes and thoughts to everyone as this has obviously been a momentously grave day.
OUCH...

About an hour ago I was trying to shut the casement windows in my bedroom. They are sort of tough to work and you have to first go up to bring it back down. The windows are grated, but made out of individual panes, not like the ones in my Minnesota house. I somehow managed to get my fingers caught between the window I was lowering and the upper windows grided pane. I COULDN'T move the window up or down. It was like slamming my fingers in a car door. I screamed for Page and she came running hearing the panic in my voice. She couldn't move it and David followerd her up in a few seconds. Between the two of them they had to put thier entire strength into bending the lower window out a bit to allow enough room for the joints of my fingers to become unstuck. It hurt SO MUCH...

They were all so sweet. The girls had run to get ice before I was even free from the window and Page sat and rubbed my back as I calmed down. They said I was as white as a sheet. I was a close to passing out as I ever have been. The worst part, we didn't think we could go to the emergency room if we needed to, they almost took me to the Dr. down the street... After I calmed down and got a little color back, my fingers also started to undent (Immediately there were huge dents in my fingers from the pressure) and I was able to move them. They are still tender to the touch, but I obviously can type so all is well...

Before the cold sweat that drenched my shirt had dried, I was sitting and watching the news. It made me realize how terrible it must be for the people in New York and near the Pentagon. In my mini-emergency I almost lost it and passed out. I can't imagine the fear in thier hearts.
I AM OKAY I figure you would all assume that, but I've been getting cell phone messages that I can't check because the cell phone lines are all clogged.

It's sort of scary and crazy here. I was supposed to be in Rosslyn which is a few miles north of the Pentagon, in Virginia, for class today. I went. It was nuts. I left the house minutes after finding out "something" had happened at the Pentagon and there were rumours of something goign on on the Mall. EVERYONE was evacuated from that area and basically everything closed. This created mass confusion and craziness on the metro. The trains were all backing up on one another and it was hard to get in or out of the trains.

I assumed when I got to Rosslyn I would be able to see the smoke from the Pentagon, but I wasn't able to. It was still mass chaos on the streets. It was amazing how crazy everyone and everything was. I can't imagine what it would be like in New York.

Classes were canceled at school and all students are supposed to stay on campus. Some of my classmates and I missed this and that's why we still went to Rosslyn. I am home now, and probably will stay here for the day/evening as everything is basically closed and people are glued to the TV.

A few minutes ago a plane flew overhead here... I could here it. I don't know what kind it was... I have a feeling it was a military plane of sorts, but I am not sure. It freaked me out, especially because I dont' normally here planes that close to the ground here.

I'll keep you posted with observations and such.
I AM OKAY I figure you would all assume that, but I've been getting cell phone messages that I can't check because the cell phone lines are all clogged.

It's sort of scary and crazy here. I was supposed to be in Rosslyn which is a few miles north of the Pentagon, in Virginia, for class today. I went. It was nuts. I left the house minutes after finding out "something" had happened at the Pentagon and there were rumours of something goign on on the Mall. EVERYONE was evacuated from that area and basically everything closed. This created mass confusion and craziness on the metro. The trains were all backing up on one another and it was hard to get in or out of the trains.

I assumed when I got to Rosslyn I would be able to see the smoke from the Pentagon, but I wasn't able to. It was still mass chaos on the streets. It was amazing how crazy everyone and everything was. I can't imagine what it would be like in New York.

Classes were canceled at school and all students are supposed to stay on campus. Some of my classmates and I missed this and that's why we still went to Rosslyn. I am home now, and probably will stay here for the day/evening as everything is basically closed and people are glued to the TV.

A few minutes ago a plane flew overhead here... I could here it. I don't know what kind it was... I have a feeling it was a military plane of sorts, but I am not sure. It freaked me out, especially because I dont' normally here planes that close to the ground here.

I'll keep you posted with observations and such.

Monday, September 10, 2001

I had my first REAL day of class today. I REALLY like my proffessor. We had really good discussion, then an okay speaker followed up by watching All the Presidents Men. I have seen it before and it got a little long especially in our stiffling hot classroom, but all in all the day was good.

I really like the people in my class. Everyone is really nice and I am looking forward to getting to know them better. I don't know if I will become "friends" with any of them but I know that my classroom time will be filled with people I can comfortably talk to... that's really all that matters.

Tommorow we go to the Newseaum which I hear is really interesting and then follow it up with a lecture. I am also making "Fancy Quiche" for Page and some friends. I am a little nervous, but am confident in my quiche making skills... I'll make sure to let everyone know how it goes. Page is having friends over because she got this ugly painting in France that the father of a mutal friend had painted of another friend. It had been "comissioned" three years ago and the woman doesn't suspect Page has it. It is hideous and supposedly really looks like the woman. Page has hung it on the dinning room wall in hopes that the woman will recognize herself. It should be pretty funny... The women invited are all sort of 'francophiles" so they are doing this whole french theme... I hope my quiche surpasses the test.