|Subject: Fw: One survivors story...|
THE PRICE WE PAY:
My name is Adam Mayblum. I am alive today. I am committing this to
"paper" so I never forget. SO WE NEVER FORGET. I am sure that this is one
of thousands of stories that will emerge over the next several days and
I arrived as usual a little before 8am. My office was on the 87
(superscript: th) floor of 1 World Trade Center, AKA: Tower 1, AKA: the
North Tower. Most of my associates were in by 8:30m. We were standing
around, joking around, eating breakfast, checking emails, and getting set
for the day when the first plane hit just a few stories above us. I must
stress that we did not know that it was a plane. The building lurched
violently and shook as if it were an earthquake. People screamed. I
watched out my window as the building seemed to move 10 to 20 feet in each
direction. It rumbled and shook long enough for me to get my wits about
myself and grab a co-worker and seek shelter under a doorway. Light
fixtures and parts of the ceiling collapsed. The kitchen was destroyed. We
werecertain that it was a bomb. We looked out the windows. Reams of paper
were flying everywhere, like a ticker tape parade. I looked down at the
street. I could see people in Battery Park City looking up. Smoke started
billowing in through the holes in the ceiling. I believe that there were
13 of us.
We did not panic. I can only assume that we thought that the
worst was over. The building was standing and we were shaken but alive. We
checked the halls. The smoke was thick and white and did not smell like I
imagined smoke should smell. Not like your BBQ or your fireplace or even a
bonfire. The phones were working. My wife had taken our 9 month old for
his check up. I called my nanny at home and told her to page my wife, tell
her that a bomb went off, I was ok, and on my way out. I grabbed my
laptop. Took off my tee shirt and ripped it into 3 pieces. Soaked it in
water. Gave 2 pieces to my friends. Tied my piece around my face to act as
an air filter. And we all started moving to the staircase. One of my
dearest friends said that he was staying until the police or firemen came
to get him. In the halls there were tiny fires and sparks. The ceiling had
collapsed in the men's bathroom. It was gone along with anyone who may
have been in there. We did not go in to look. We missed the staircase on
the first run and had to double back. Once in the staircase we picked up
fire extinguishers just incase. On the 85(superscript: th) floor a brave
associate of mine and I headed back up to our office to drag out my
partner who stayed behind. There was no air, just white smoke. We made the
rounds through the office calling his name. No response. He must have
succumbed to the smoke. We left defeated in our efforts and made our way
back to the stairwell. We proceeded to the 78(superscript: th) floor where
we had to change over to a different stairwell. 78 is the main junction to
switch to the upper floors. I expected to see more people. There were some
50 to 60 more. Not enough. Wires and fires all over the place. Smoke too.
A brave man was fighting a fire with the emergency hose. I stopped with to
friends to make sure that everyone from our office was accounted for. We
ushered them and confused people into the stairwell. In retrospect, I
recall seeing Harry, my head trader, doing the same several yards behind
me. I am only 35. I have known him for over 14 years. I headed into the
stairwell with 2 friends.
We were moving down very orderly in Stair Case A. very slowly.
No panic. At least not overt panic. My legs could not stop shaking. My
heart was pounding. Some nervous jokes and laughter. I made a crack
about ruining a brand new pair of Merrells. Even still, they were right,
my feet felt great. We all laughed. We checked our cell phones.
Surprisingly, there was a very good signal, but the Sprint network was
jammed. I heard that the Blackberry 2 way email devices worked perfectly.
On the phones, 1 out of 20 dial attempts got through. I knew I could not
reach my wife so I called my parents. I told them what happened and that
we were all okay and on the way down. Soon, my sister in law reached me. I
told her we were fine and moving down. I believe that was about the 65
(superscript: th) floor. We were bored and nervous. I called my friend
Angel in San Francisco. I knew he would be watching. He was amazed I was
on the phone. He told me to get out that there was another plane on its
way. I did not know what he was talking about. By now the second plane had
struck Tower 2. We were so deep into the middle of our building that we
did not hear or feel anything. We had no idea what was really going on. We
kept making way for wounded to go down ahead of us. Not many of them, just
a few. No one seemed seriously wounded. Just some cuts and scrapes.
Everyone cooperated. Everyone was a hero yesterday. No questions asked. I
had co-workers in another office on the 77(superscript: th) floor. I tried
dozens of times to get them on their cell phones or office lines. It was
futile. Later I found that they were alive. One of the many miracles on a
day of tragedy.
On the 53(superscript: rd) floor we came across a very
heavyset man sitting on the stairs. I asked if he needed help or was he
just resting. He needed help. I knew I would have trouble carrying him
because I have a very bad back. But my friend and I offered anyway. We
told him he could lean on us. He hesitated, I don't know why. I said do
you want to come or do you want us to send help for you. He chose for
help. I told him he was on the 53(superscript: rd) floor in Stairwell A
and that's what I would tell the rescue workers. He said okay and we left.
On the 44(superscript: th) floor my phone rang again. It was
my parents. They were hysterical. I said relax, I'm fine. My father said
get out, there is third plane coming. I still did not understand. I was
kind of angry. What did my parents think? Like I needed some other reason
to get going? I couldn't move the thousand people in front of me any
faster. I know they love me, but no one inside understood what the
situation really was. My parents did. Starting around this floor the
firemen, policemen, WTC K-9 units without the dogs, anyone with a badge,
started coming up as we were heading down. I stopped a lot of them and
told them about the man on 53 and my friend on 87. I later felt terrible
about this. They headed up to find those people and met death instead.
On the 33(superscript: rd) floor I spoke with a man who
somehow new most of the details. He said 2 small planes hit the building.
Now we all started talking about which terrorist group it was. Was it an
internal organization or an external one? The overwhelming but uninformed
opinion was Islamic Fanatics. Regardless, we now knew that it was not a
bomb and there were potentially more planes coming. We understood.
On the 3r floor the lights went out and we heard & felt this
rumbling coming towards us from above. I thought the staircase was
collapsing upon itself. It was 10am now and that was Tower 2
collapsing next door. We did not know that. Someone had a flashlight. We
passed it forward and left the stairwell and headed down a dark and
cramped corridor to an exit. We could not see at all. I recommended that
everyone place a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them and
call out if they hit an obstacle so others would know to avoid it. They
did. It worked perfectly. We reached another stairwell and saw a female
officer emerge soaking wet and covered in soot. She said we could not go
that way it was blocked. Go up to 4 and use the other exit. Just as we
started up she said it was ok to go down instead. There was water
everywhere. I called out for hands on shoulders again and she said that
was a great idea. She stayed behind instructing people to do that. I do
not know what happened to her.
We emerged into an enormous room. It was light but filled with
smoke. I commented to a friend that it must be under construction. Then we
realized where we were. It was the second floor. The one that overlooks
the lobby. We were ushered out into the courtyard, the one where the
fountain used to be. My first thought was of a TV movie I saw once about
nuclear winter and fallout. I could not understand where all of the debris
came from. There was at least five inches of this gray pasty dusty drywall
soot on the ground as well as a thickness of it in the air. Twisted steel
and wires. I heard there were bodies and body parts as well, but I did not
look. It was bad enough. We hid under the remaining overhangs and moved
out to the street. We were told to keep walking towards Houston Street.
The odd thing is that there were very few rescue workers around. Less than
five. They all must have been trapped under the debris when Tower 2 fell.
We did not know that and could not understand where all of that debris
came from. It was just my friend Kern and I now. We were hugging but sad.
We felt certain that most of our friends ahead of us died and we knew no
one behind us.
We came upon a post office several blocks away. We stopped and
looked up. Our building, exactly where our office is (was), was engulfed
in flame and smoke. A postal worker said that Tower 2 had fallen down. I
looked again and sure enough it was gone. My heart was racing. We kept
trying to call our families. I could not get in touch with my wife.
Finally I got through to my parents. Relived is not the word to explain
their feelings. They got through to my wife, thank G-d and let her know I
was alive. We sat down. A girl on a bike offered us some water. Just as
she took the cap off her bottle we heard a rumble. We looked up and our
building, Tower 1 collapsed. I did not note the time but I am told it was
10:30am. We had been out less than 15 minutes.
We were mourning our lost friends, particularly the one who
stayed in the office as we were now sure that he had perished. We started
walking towards Union Square. I was going to Beth Israel Medical Center to
be looked at. We stopped to hear the President speaking on the radio. My
phone rang. It was my wife. I think I fell to my knees crying when I heard
her voice. Then she told me the most incredible thing. My partner who had
stayed behind called her. He was alive and well. I guess we just lost him
in the commotion. We started jumping and hugging and shouting. I told my
wife that my brother had arranged for a hotel in midtown. He can be very
resourceful in that way. I told her I would call her from there. My
brother and I managed to get a gypsy cab to take us home to Westchester
instead. I cried on my son and held my wife until I fell asleep.
As it turns out my partner, the one who I thought had stayed
behind was behind us with Harry Ramos, our head trader. This is now second
hand information. They came upon Victor, the heavyset man on the 53
(superscript: rd) floor. They helped him. He could barely move. My partner
bravely/stupidly tested the elevator on the 52(superscript: nd) floor. He
rode it down to the sky lobby on 44. The doors opened, it was fine. He
rode it back up and got Harry and Victor. I don't yet know if anyone else
joined them. Once on 44 they made their way back into the stairwell.
Someplace around the 39(superscript: th) to 36(superscript: th) floors
they felt the same rumble I felt on the 3(superscript: rd) floor. It was
10am and Tower 2 was coming down. They had about 30 minutes to get out.
Victor said he could no longer move. They offered to have him lead on
them. He said he couldn't do it. My partner hollered at him to sit on his
butt and schooch down the steps. He said he was not capable of doing it.
Harry told my partner to go ahead of them. Harry had once had a heart
attack and was worried about this mans heart. It was his nature to be this
way. He was/is one of the kindest people I know. He would not leave a man
behind. My partner went ahead and made it out. He said he was out maybe 10
minutes before the building came down. This means that Harry had maybe 25
minutes to move Victor 36 floors.
I guess they moved 1 floor every 1.5 minutes. Just a guess. This means
Harry wad around the 20(superscript: th) floor when the building
collapsed. As of now 12 of 13 people are accounted for. As of 6pm
yesterday his wife had not heard from him. I fear that Harry is lost.
However, a short while ago I heard that he may be alive. Apparently there
is a web site with survivor names on it and his name appears there.
Unfortunately, Ramos is not an uncommon name in New York. Pray for him and
all those like him.
With regards to the firemen heading upstairs, I realize that they were
going up anyway. But, it hurts to know that I may have made them move
quicker to find my friend. Rationally, I know this is not true and that I
am not the responsible one. The responsible ones are in hiding somewhere
on this planet and damn them for making me feel like this. But they should
know that they failed in terrorizing us. We were calm. Those men and women
that went up were heroes in the face of it all. They must have known what
was going on and they did their jobs. Ordinary people were heroes too.
Today the images that people around the world equate with power and
democracy are gone but "America" is not an image it is a concept. That
concept is only strengthened by our pulling together as a team. If you
want to kill us, leave us alone because we will do it by ourselves. If you
want to make us stronger, attack and we unite. This is the ultimate
failure of terrorism against The United States and the ultimate price we
pay to be free, to decide where we want to work, what we want to eat, and
when & where we want to go on vacation. The very moment the first plane
was hijacked, democracy won.