As the next weeks approached us it felt like a much longer journey than it was.I found myself assigned to a crew loading debris from piles of concrete and twisted materials like carpet furniture and railings and such.I was instructed by crew chief if anything unusual is discovered to immediately stop working and put up a red flag and call out halt.I wasn’t quite shore what we would encounter but we were next to plenty of search and rescue squads from all areas of the country awaiting their chance to assist.Rumors were rampant of all the body parts ofremains being discovered in this area.
We were located on the side where the hotels damaged by the collapse of towers demolished the surrounding buildings barely standing from the onslaught of rubble.I would be terrified looking up and around these barely standing structures with vertical beams sticking through them. The uneasy fear I had just being in this vicinity was the main cause of me not being able to be in city structures anymore and any heights that I’m subject too it gives me total anxiety and fear.The task was unbearable to methodically go through this debris and be watchful of what can be found. And on top of this these buildings being at a moment's notice comingdown.Getting back to the story and now you are seeing and feeling what I am at this point I didn’t find the awful things the search and rescue crews did and work would stop for hrs if that was presented but the one thing that I did find brought a tremendous reality to my presence and situation their.
I moved a bunch of mixed office debris and their it was a cell phone intact .I remember it to be a flip phone open but not powered I stood in my tracks for a minute with a closed uneasy feeling worse than the anxiety that I was already feeling.I was conscious of what to do and called out “halt” but was devastated to not know was this a victims phone or a panicked bystander who dropped everything to escape the disaster.I did find the strength to red flag it and call out halt and the search and rescue personnel were right there to examine . They would immediately bag it and send it off to the examiners office .
They would call out all clear and you would proceed your work.This would happen all through the shift with all crews working on this site it was maddening not knowing who found what or what was found due to your clearance level was not to ask questions just do your part of the task.I mean it in a professional way not to misread of any misconduct I personally was treated with respect and courtesy always but my demeanor was changing as I felt sick and I felt an enormous amount of remorse for what was going on here.I mean the behind the scenes work was most likely the actual true quest for heroism any of us were to witness.The iron workers working nonstop through the twisted debris.The construction workers and all us helpers multitasking in any capacity to gain ground on the progression to show strength and get this part of the city up and running which was simply impossible at times but was politically motivated without our knowledge of the true consequences that were to come to all of us present at the foot of this tragedy.
This is where I struggle some 22 years later to deal with I’m not looking to be celebrated here but other that my family seeing my deterioration of activity is heartening to subject them too.I at that moment in time never knew what we were all to face and continue to face Daily today.
I raise my glass to all of us that did our part and what was asked of us and I do apologies for what we are going through even though the country doesn’t take that responsibility for their obligation to protect us at that site not from enemies but from the destruction itself was their biggest failure.