Two articles I wrote shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre have been reprinted in a 10-year retrospective.
The first one, Armada rescues trapped New Yorkers, was based on extensive phone interviews with tugboat owners from Reinauer Transportation and Moran Towing, as well as officials from U.S. Coast Guard Activities New York and Vessel Traffic Services New York.
The second article Escape from the 91st Floor is based on an interview with Claire McIntyre, a staffer with the American Bureau of Shipping, describing her dramatic escape from the north tower of the World Trade Centre.
Both articles were printed in Marine Digest magazine, a Seattle-based magazine I formerly edited, now called Cargo Business News. The retrospective can be viewed or downloaded. My 9/11 articles start on Page 17.
Thanks Julie. I wrote these articles in the week immediately after 9/11, and they were published in October 2001. So I was slightly amused to see the title of the new video narrated by Tom Hanks – BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDOrzF7B2Kg).
It’s always interesting to look back on stories written in the heat of the moment. In my original Armada story, I used the U.S. Coast Guard’s estimate of 1 million people evacuated by water from Lower Manhattan that day. Ten years on, no one still seems to know the exact numbers. However, the numbers evacuated are now thought to be more like 300,000 to 500,000. Still an impressive number, though, and one of the largest ever in U.S. history. Ferries carried the bulk of the evacuees.
Re-reading the stories also reminded me how hard it is write about any tragic event without glorifying war or inciting extreme patriotism.
As for the second story, it’s sometimes the trivial things that stick in my mind. Claire told me the dramatic story of how she ran down 91 flights of steps in the North Tower with her colleagues. And for years afterward, whenever I was in the gym, I’d make sure I climbed the equivalent of 91 floors on the Stairmaster – to make sure I would be fit enough to escape a similar disaster. Illogical, really, as what are the odds of anything like this happening in exactly the same way again? But it’s how I remember the escape from the twin towers.