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September 11 attacks, World Trade Center FEMA Remembers 9/11: Tom Von Essen

For me, I was on the East River Drive on my way to the office, which is on the other side of the Brooklyn. Bridge. Got a call that a small plane hit the north tower of the Trade Center and pulled up right over there and went in walked through the windows had already blown out.. When I got in the lobby, of course, all hell broke loose., The chief said was not a small plane, it was a commercial airliner. And they couldnt put the fires out because it had severed all the lines.. They were doing the best they could. They had had to shut down using the elevators and guys were walking. Up. Few of the firefighters got up there right away.. They were able to ascertain how bad it was. Got the word back to us., But we knew we had a real, tough job on our hands and about 10 minutes later we felt the vibration. We thought it was an explosion in the elevator shaft. And Ray Downey. The head of our special operations division and the team said to me that the South Tower had been hit that the Pentagon had been hit, that there was a plane, missing. And it was like it was like crazy.. We knew, then we had a real problem and we had to take half of the leadership from the North Tower and send them to the south tower.. We were in the process of trying to get everybody out.

, But some of the firefighters that were helping people would just wouldnt come down without those people., So it took a long time.. So I left the building.. We all left the lobby.. I was trying to find the mayor at that point.. I went around the corner to OEM. And, as I went around the building, the south tower collapsed., And that was a shock for us, because the South Tower was hit second. So we knew then that if the south tower fell, we were in bad shape, of course, with the north tower. And the day just progressively got worse., We had the best chiefs anywhere for no other reason that we had so much experience.. We have every kind of problem you could have here in New York City and its bigger than everybody elses problem and theres more of them. So you get good fire chiefs and good firemen.. So our chiefs are very experienced.. We had people there who knew what to do.. It was not not much you could do but other than try to help people. When you get an explosion like that, with all that fuel at 600 miles an hour. Of course, the heat and everything was very, very bad., So doorways were twisted and anybody who was above the impact of the plane died.. But there was a lot of people that were rescued below it.. We found out later on that about. Eighteen thousand people were in the complex judged by the card readers.

. You know, we didnt know how many. People on subways. It went down eight eight stories below ground., So it was a really complicated, situation. Subways restaurants., You didnt know where everybody was., So it was. It was rough. And the guys did a great job., Great job that day.. What I got to see when I was at FEMA was the connection of the the federal government connection that I wasnt even aware of when I was a fire commissioner.. I got to see what the USAR teams were like.. I got to see how phenomenally dedicated they were. The training., I think about being on a pile at on the at the Trade Center.. I remember seeing these groups that were totally geared up wearing all the safety equipment they were supposed to wear., And that was the professionalism that the USAR teams maintained throughout the country.. I always look back at what we really needed was professional help managing our disaster, because it was so big.. It was twenty seven acres, I think, and it was for us. It was a lot. We never needed help before in New York., But the Trade Center we needed it. And FEMA brought in the incident management teams and all of the experts that we didnt have to help all the firefighters and police officers and FEMA folks that were Trying so hard, you know for months to to find people. The whole experience the whole three four months that we stayed.

And then, even after all, the memorials and watching the kids grow up those who were able to push forward and put the tragedy not behind them. But to carry it alongside., You need to keep it in a compartment and let it out, but you need to get it back in so you can go on and enjoy the parts of your life that you have and not just dwell on the parts that hurt.

What do you think?

Written by freotech

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