World Trade Center

Getting to the World Trade Center the Day After

I had a deep desire to help save someone stuck at the World Trade attack and to just get all the way in and see what happened.
Mike and I went.   We took the train to west 4th, last stop. Everything after was closed. Snuck through the first level of police at Hudson Street.  Then Got through at Canal street when the cops were all monitoring a vehicle at the blockade.  Then the rest of the blockades were the army people, and they had long killing things in their hands.(i think they’re called rifles. ) But everything was pretty docile.

We got in a back door to styvesant high school and went in the cellar to come up and around the front which was closer to the WTC.  The first floor was a make shift hospital with docs, cops and firemen.  It was an eating place also.  We went back down and got out through the cellar on the other side closest to the world trade.
Then we went into a Park garage with a half open door, there was no electricity anywhere.  The garage was dark and huge so I used the light from the camera to get us through.  Mike found a door and we went up into the deserted building and found the back door that was closest to the WTC.  We peeked through it for a half hour because out side of the door it was packed with uniformed dudes and we had nothing except my knapsack filled with DMSO bottles. (In other words, no emergency uniforms.)  (DMSO is a wood byproduct that helps save life in trauma circumstances and causes injuries to heal quickly, blood clots to release and revives life in many different situations.  We finally went through and didn’t look at anyone.  It led us right back to the same block cause we couldn’t get through the guards…that whole thing took like an hour or more.
We were kind of quitting and decided to start going back and get food. Mike found a garbage bag with some fire proof vests and a type of gas mask. On the way off of that block we ate at the volunteer place set up in another school building that was on this side of the fourth blockade…tons of tai food from the restaurants in the area and water and soda and sandwiches and raisins and and…There were volunteers with food and water all over.
Took a few more pics at the intersection before packing it. This was the place where you could see building 7. (there are pictures of all this on the links above.)  Building 7 was rubble and smoke.   After 5 hours of getting as close as we could, we were within three blocks…At the next intersection over you could see from a distance, Building one. I wanted to touch the buildings facing and get to looking for someone alive that the others overlooked. The army, police and fire dept. were at this blockade.  I saw a someone go down the train thing and come up. I went down and mike followed me.  It was like planet of the apes when they saw the statue of liberty under the dirt and the trains scene, everything was abandoned and pitch black.  We almost walked down the tracks one stop to try to come up at the World trade center front but we had no flashlights and it was pitch black and the tracks were filled with water.
It turned out that the bag mike had had two vests in it that looked fire proof.  We put them on took some pictures and came up on the other side of the intersection just behind all the guards at the corner.  We didn’t stop and we kept walking, no one bothered us.

We came down the block and the noise stopped.  The cars were smashed and covered. The street was filled with soft ash like from a fire place.  We were there, one block from the WTC.  It was almost dead silent because any noise down the block at the front of WTC 1 was absorbed and muffled by all the ashes on the ground, on the walls of the standing buildings on either side of the street and smoke.  Just over the 15 foot high rubble wall in front of us was Building one.  We could see the facing of it sticking up.  It was still a block away so we went around from the next block over.  Another guy who had also snuck in said we could get right to it if we went around.  (Then he told us that he was kicked out of being AT  the front of the WTC building one..) I’d like to know how he got in!

Anyway, we walked past hundreds of firemen, police and army dudes  and sat down on the steps of Brooks Brothers in the front of World Trade Center Building one.  I didn’t want to get caught here so we didn’t go across the street to the building for another half hour or so as we got a feel for what was going on.   They weren’t trying to save people which really upset me.  I felt helpless and when you look at tons of rubble from the building, you see it’s nearly impossible to dig out before three days is up.( three days is how long someone can live under there, if they have air.) Nothing was being moved at building one.  It is possible that they confirmed that there was more hope at building two, but I wanted to see more action at building one.  Hardly anything was being dug up.  People were just wandering around.  They should have organized shifts, maybe everyone was too exhausted to do anything.

The firemen didn’t bother us nor did the police when we started going on the rubble to get to the top of pile.  We got to the top and there was a 75 foot hole that no one was going into to check the side holes and  open basement floors for people. Mike started digging for people with the other firemen and first aid rescue personal and I looked down the hole for movement and sound.  Some Union volunteers and off duty fire men were just hand picking the stuff off the top.  This could never work. They should just use the machines to scoop everything to the side and then start digging to open the ceilings up of the underground malls and hallways and rooms.  The people underneath can live for 3 or 4 days without water and weeks if they have water and air.  There were busted pipes all over and floods so there can be people alive in there for weeks with water.  The technique they are using can’t get down in time.  Mike was trying to organize a squad. I was about to go down as one guy had gone down before but came up quick because things started falling down the crater near him.. From what it looked like, they weren’t doing it right.  We went over the details of getting to the bottom, but it just was getting too dark.  After about an hour or so a fireman told me he’d show me how to slide down cause he had done it before.  When I told him I had no light he told me I should have my name written on the side of my arm like everyone else in case  something happened to me.  That’s when I decide to go to a different spot.  He said there were escalators on the side.  We went to the side of the building and when  we looked up there was a fireman off of a ladder extension from the truck shooting the hose right over us.  There was big operation going on at the escalators and we started getting in the way.  We were asked to get out.  I wish I could have done more. Mike had found a nap sack and it had a laptop computer in it with water logged notes a couple of child care books (this kid had probably worked on the first floor at the child care center) and a phone bill.   .  This is when we decided to leave and go start home.
We left and went back up the blocks.  At chambers, all of the TV. crews and reporters were set up.  NO reporters or TV crews were allowed in.  We gave an interview to a Philippine reporter..  I showed the producers at ABC, CNN and FOX my pictures and they want them but had to leave.  We walked back to Houston street and took the train home. Mike with his shovel, vest and nap sack and me with my vest and nap sack full of DMSO that I was going to use on survivors that I that I thought I was going to find. (I feel that I stopped short and if I did things perfect, I could have gone down that hole and found some people, maybe I lost faith along the way, or maybe I just wasn’t supposed to go any further.  That’s what I was praying about on the train)
We talked about the laptop and planned to call the kid’s family and give them his remains.   When we got to Mike’s house we called the phone number from the phone bill that was in the bag.  The name said Brian Girard.  I called dreading finding out he was still missing.  Brian Girard answered. He was alive.  We both thanked God together and then he told me his story.   He worked on the first floor of the building he said, and when the plane hit he ran outside to see, and then ran into the bank across the street when he saw all the stuff coming down. He’s calling me tomorrow to pick up his stuff.  I interview him when he came to my house to pick the bag up on my digital camera...Click here for Brian Girard’s description of what happened.   Happy ending.  Here’s the bag we found