I've been home for the past two days. Downtown Manhattan is still closed and I have no idea when I'll be able to get back to work. From speaking to other people, it appears that I was very fortunate to leave the city as soon as I did. I just was in for a very long walk (nearly 10 miles) and today my legs still hurt (it's the old age and not enough excersize).
At 9 o'clock on Tuesday we were standing in the window of our office building looking at the fire in the first tower that was hit. I now realize that we saw the "exit wound" which did not look that bad. The fire was only on one floor. It was an odd scene, as office papers were floating slowly in the air towards our building.
We are actually less than 1/2 mile from WTC - a 10 minute walk. It was then that we saw the second airplane come in and hit. The scene had a unreal, movie quality. I think that fact that we were behind glass and there was no sound at first. We saw the airplane banking to the left, as if to make sure that it would not miss, then it just went in and a huge fireball engulfed the top of the second tower. A second or so later we heard the muffled sound of the explosion.
At this point it was clear that this was no accident, so we just ran to our desks telling everyone to get out. We are on the 48th floor of a building that's right on the edge of East River - wide open to another attack. If there were two planes, there could have been more.
As elevators were packed, we took the stairs. Running at first, but slowing down to a walk after a while. It takes time to go down 48 flights.
When we got out of the building we walked to Battery Park to get away from all the buildings. At some point at Battery Park I was able to reach my wife on the cell phone and tell her I was OK.
We lingered by the water for a while. I thought of trying to catch a subway to get out of the city, but I was afraid to go underground - I expected subways to be closed anyway. So instead I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. My mother-in-law and my parents live in Brooklyn.
We started up Water Street and my friend, Jason, decided to stop by our old office on Wall st and Water. He wanted to hook up to the internet and get his email, I just kept walking.
Few minutes after I got on the Brooklyn Bridge we heard what sounded like an explosion. I turned around and saw big pieces of the World Trade Center tower start falling down. It created a huge clound of smoke/ash that slowly filled lower Manhattan. As the wind was from North West the cloud did not cover the Bridge. I just hanged my head down and continued walking.
Jason was in the office when the collapse occured and he told me the whole building shook and he ran out of there as fast as he could - leavinag his stuff behind.
My new boss was stuck undeground in a subway train when the buildings collapsed. The train was only couple of blocks from WTC. Fortunately the subway tunnel held and the train was backed out of there and everyone was safe.
A brother of a friend from an old job is a NYC fireman. He was among the first fireman on the scene. Today he is still missing.
Like I said. I'm very fortunate to have gotten out when I did...