September 11, 2001
DJ and I were living in New York. My office was located near the base of the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex. I woke to initial news of what was being reported as a small plane accidentally hitting the North Tower. Later, my office was sheered in half in the collapse, and I was first allowed back into the site a couple of days after the attack and took some photos of a city grieving & at ‘ground zero’.
DJ’s cousin, Ken Basnicki, was on top of WTC1, the North Tower attending THE RISK WATERS FINANCIAL CONGRESS , along with the WINDOWS ON THE WORLD manager Christine Olender, a friend that loved Broadway, both of whom died that day.
Without diminishing their incredible efforts, it’s not just about the first responders, but equally 1,000’s of stories of unimaginable heroism abound with the courage of ordinary people shone through on airplanes, on fighter jets, within the Twin Towers, in the Marriott Hotel, at the Pentagon and on the ground.
In an instant, everything changed.
Here is my personal account, my photos, remembrances of some heroes, a collated timeline & global newspapers...
MY DIARY NOTES
(from my emails to overseas family/friends)
TUE, SEPT. 11, 2001:
Thank-you for your thoughts. What a wonderful outpouring from friends from around the world concerned about us. We truly appreciate and were touched by your concern.
For those that have tried to call, thanks for trying, but only a small percentage of calls are getting through to us even in NJ. Unfortunately, since phones don’t work, it’s weird and eerie being so out of communication.
We are all safe, Gizmo and Rocky included. Fortunately, we had a power blackout on Tuesday morning, my alarm clock did not go off, and I slept in. By the time I was preparing to leave for my world trade centre site office for a regular Tuesday morning staff meeting, I heard of what was being reported on TV as a small twin engine plane crashing into WTC1, likely as a result of pilot heart attack. Within minutes, reports were updated that it was a commercial airliner.
I must commend local NYC television media while reporting the minute-by-minute events, did not show the many people jumping from the buildings, while non-NYC TV news did show this.
DJ was already downtown, but fortunately, he was on 39th street, a fair way north from the world trade centre, although he saw the smoke, and smelt it. He breathed the acidic thick dust. He called me at home to let me know.
DJ then spent the next 7 hours getting out of Manhattan, with everything sealed, he was lucky to escape early enough to get the last ferry to Hoboken, as the ferries have been commandeered for emergency evacuation from Battery Park, and some acting as hospital boats to move overflow of the injured to NJ hospitals. From Hoboken, he hitched a ride on the back of a pickup truck with others from the area, then walked to Newark, then thumbed a private car lift from Newark to home.
During his escape, his mobile phone seemed to be the only one working (perhaps because it was a Canadian account roaming on a New Jersey system), as a result, everyone was borrowing it to call their loved ones to let them know they were safe.
(a few weeks later, the mobile phone bill in the thousands of dollars arrived for his phone, with a kind note from the service provider, that they wiped all charges as a courtesy acknowledging 9/11).
I have spent the better part of the day along with our company president Basil Hero, trying to account for all our staff, plus my additionally tracking friends and neighbors, which are all now reported safe except for DJ’s cousin, my lawyer that has an office on a high floor in WTC1 (later found he got out safely), and a friend who managed a restaurant atop WTC1 at WINDOWS ON THE WORLD .
My office which is at the northern base of WTC1 (which fell at 10:30am) over the top of our building adjacent to WTC7 (which collapsed at 6pm).
(later found landing gear and flight engine in the street outside outside our office from United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767, which struck WTC2 – the South Tower at 9:05am)
The several people we know working in WTC1, some on very high floors, above the initial plane impact point, we are anxiously awaiting news on, but fear the obvious.
DJ’s first cousin, Kenneth Basnicki, alas is one of these. He is in Manhattan from Canada this morning, (arrived on Sunday), representing BEA Systems at THE RISK WATERS FINANCIAL CONGRESS on the upper floors of WTC1 at WINDOWS ON THE WORLD hosted by Risk Waters Group from London.
Between 8:50am and 8:55am, Ken called his mother, Jean in Canada, to say that he was on the 106th floor, it was filling with smoke, and did not feel he was going to get out. Nobody heard from him since.
(Sadly, 64 other delegates, 16 Risk Waters staff and 74 employees at WINDOWS ON THE WORLD also perished.)
In such a small world, another friend, Christine Olender, a strong willed, smart girlie-girl that loves Broadway and often supports our various shows, is a manager at WINDOWS ON THE WORLD and coincidentally was hosting THE RISK WATERS FINANCIAL CONGRESS that morning.
(In August 2003, we learned from transcripts released of Christine’s 4 recorded calls to 911 police, we found that she was heroic in keeping calm and getting the conference attendees, gathered on the 106th floor, since it was impossible to escape the floor). [TRANSCRIPT OF 911 CALLS]
Unfortunately, we fear that every New Yorker will have similar stories, with ~50,000 people working in the complex of buildings, everyone is going to know someone.
Just two days ago, I toured Dad and Leslie through my office, as they are on holiday from Australia, then I took photos of them in the plaza between the twin towers prior to their onward flight to Portugal the next day.
For the next few weeks at least, I’ll only be using the Times Square office, and likely, due to the difficulties in getting in and out of Manhattan (the path train station — only train access between NJ and NY was in the base of the WTC, and no longer exists), I’ll be working more from home in NJ.
Both of us will be downtown all day tomorrow. We are donating blood in the morning, and planning on volunteering afterwards. The city and its people, have quite remarkably transformed in the past 12 hours into caring, compassionate and wanting to help.
Our thoughts are with everyone, everywhere, I believe this event will change the world and be remembered for decades to come.
UPDATE: THU, SEPT. 13, 2001:
I won’t waste time on the extraordinary news evolving each 15 minutes today – copycat stupidity of potential hijackings today from both JFK and LGA created fear beyond belief.
DJ and I spent a few hours getting downtown today – since the train we take from NJ to NY no longer exists, today we drove to the Hudson river, took the ferry across (the only way to get into the city currently). Bomb scares are abounding – indeed, while we were on the ferry heading across to midtown, midtown areas around Times Square were evacuated with multiple bomb threats (clearly timed to coincide with each other) at Penn Station, Empire State Building, and multiple high-rise buildings surrounding Times Square, including 1450 Broadway, my uptown office for Nederlander. All in all, over 90 bombs scares today throughout downtown.
As a result, mass transit service was stopped, and so we walked for 8 miles today, from the ferry terminal to Times Square, then down to the 14th Street non-resident restriction line and police checkpoint.
We were allowed to get within 15 blocks of my old office (non-residents are not allowed below 14th street – about 40 blocks away) – but even so far away, the carnage is everywhere. Ash, smoke and this incredible, unique smell – like burning plastic, which is largely the residue of jet fuel and molten steel. Our throats hurt when breathing. The thick dust is clogging our airwaves. The scene was surreal.
The streets are bare. Really bare. DJ and I immediately noticed the absolute silence of the city – no cabs honking, no sirens, no yelling. No people pushing, no crowds of tourists or street vendors – as our photos show, 7th Avenue & Broadway was bare – no cars, few people. Army aircraft including helicopters, light wing planes and F-16s fly overhead. Military hummers, trucks and other rarely seen specialty vehicles are throughout the city – the army are controlling the streets, armed with machine guns. It’s a strange sight and reminds me so much of London during the Poll Tax riots and IRA bombings when living there in 1991/1992 – but on a much larger scale.
Much of the city has stayed indoors or fled. literally. A lot of younger people are so naturally freaked and spooked by the events they are frightened to return and are giving up. Psychological counseling will be necessary for so many people.
DJ and I are frankly still in a state of shock and disbelief I guess, in a very real way. I’m not ashamed to admit, and perhaps it’s because I’m a proud citizen of the Commonwealth, but for the FIRST time I cried today, when watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace today, for the first time in history, playing The Star-Spangled Banner: AN AMAZING SIGHT AND SOUND OF SOLIDARITY
After visiting downtown, we headed to the victims services areas, and in particular the city morgue set up at the Chelsea Pier ice skating rink to try to glean information on DJ’s cousin. It’s almost assuredly bad news. It’s expected that the thousands of people trapped in the buildings were likely pulverized – 1,250 feet of building now sits in a pile about 30 feet tall. The morgue has body bags lined up, some with only fingers or other body parts in separate bags. I think it’s going to take years to identify remains through DNA.
The television pictures simply cannot convey the shear horror, scale and scope of the carnage – over 100 buildings surrounding the WTC complex are destroyed or damaged – either fires, structural damage or total collapse. Thousands of residents are displaced. Pets have lost their owners and walking the streets alone, thousands of them. Many pets escaped their Brownstone ground floor homes when windows were smashed in during the collapse. It’s so terribly sad.
No telephone service exists in pockets of Manhattan – our own home phone is sporadic (no outgoing calls) – my cell phone only works while in NJ – within NYC – no cell phone service works. The bulk of the internet servers and hubs for most of Manhattan were located in the WTC – as a result, the vast majority of Manhattan has no internet access. Direct TV and Satellite TV is out completely in the entire region (receivers/repeaters were on the roofs of the WTC1), The NASDAQ’s headquarters were in WTC5 – now destroyed. No electricity or gas south of 14th Street – affecting thousands of people.
There are 975,000 hotel rooms in the city – and approximately 2 million displaced persons including tourists – private citizens are billeting – hotels are doubling rooms, numerous shelters are setup – victims families cannot find accommodations – it’s the mass of the small things and issues facing New Yorkers and tourists that add up to massive complexity, but without frustration – only understanding.
Whenever a plane flys overhead, EVERYONE looks up immediately in concern. A slamming door, or car driving over a manhole cover make people physically jump and turn. The city is nervous awaiting whatever is next, with a belief that it’s not over yet.
We’ve applied for FEMA and SBA assistance for The Broadway Archive (our office) – we have been offered free temporary office space from several companies, but frankly, without years of paperwork, contracts, computer data, photographs, video — and staff — we are trying to decide what to do. So many businesses are expected to fold if they have not already.
Midway Airlines already fired all 1,900 employees on Wednesday, and ceased operations, since the grounding of all planes was a cost they could not bear – so many are expected to follow. Continental Airlines will likely fire 1,800 employees tomorrow, and all airlines are expecting at least a 20% cutback.
I wish I could capture the smell and experience for you in some way – alas, photos are as a good as I can get. Maybe pictures will put this in a little more perspective…. I’ve assembled some photos we took today, (while volunteering in and around the areas between Canal street and 14th Street) – we could not enter the 15 block radius debris field area, however, we were told likely in a couple of days, residents and office owners can.
The walls of missing people photos are depressing – every lamppost, fence, street sign, wall or other public space is covered in them. The vigils and popup memorials are touching. Our photos hopefully will give you a glimpse of some interesting NYC scenes…
UPDATE: SAT, SEPT. 15, 2001
We were downtown all-day Friday, however, not by choice. We left at 10am and got downtown relatively quickly around 12:30pm by ferry (normally we have a 25 minute commute). We were given permission to enter and go south, since I had my WTC business cards, and they treated us like a resident of the area.
DJ’s cousin Kenneth is still ‘missing’. The city emergency services cannot provide much assistance, and we are obviously prepared for the expected. Between completing 10 page victims reports, walking from hospital to hospital, and talking with others, it’s an exhausting process. All living John Doe’s in hospitals have now been identified. Alas, the city officials are now warning families and friends that the missing may never be recovered, due to the force of impact of the collapse of the building, and the heat of the fire.
As the designated family representative of Kenneth (with flights grounded, Ken’s direct family are stuck in Canada, and his wife, Maureen, who works for Air Canada is stuck in Germany), DJ was dealing with family matters at the family assistance centre and morgue.
During DJ’s nightmare of bureaucracy, as the designated representative, I was allowed into our office within the WTC site to survey and retrieve anything salvageable that I could carry. I was accompanied by a structural engineer, police and fire department escorts, and entered my office after being escorted on a cleared path about 10 feet north of the smoldering rubble. I mostly just retrieved some computer hard drives from computers at the NW edge of the building that had not been destroyed entirely, since I could only take what I could carry.
With the knowledge that this is a massive grave site, I felt awkward taking photos, but seeing others taking photos, I built the courage and managed to take a few photos of the scene at ‘ground zero’ in and surrounding what’s left and it was shocking. In addition to the epicenter of the site, remains of my building and all remaining interior spaces are shrouded with a good half inch of thick debris. The walls, normally a vivid lime green are now brown and yellow.
Bits of clothing were strewn around the lobby and entrance to the building. Aircraft parts landed across the street. Firetrucks, police vehicles and ambulances parked outside were destroyed. Splashing bottled water on my eyes, the smell and smoke and acidic air, which we understand is from a toxic combination of molten steel, jet fuel and pulverised concrete, wooden furniture, plastic laminates and human remains was very challenging to endure, even for just a few hours. (later the city revealed levels of airborne asbestos found in New York City were approximately 93,000 times higher than the typical amount.)
The fire department expects the smoke and burn to last for weeks, if not months. (Update: ground zero smoldered until December 19 when it stopped burning. 3 months and a week after the suicide attacks)
We tried leaving the city by ferry across the Hudson at 3:00pm, however, due to a combination of factors: President Bush’s visit, temporary river closing, tunnels closing, mass transit closings, NJ arrests of suspects and the massive hospital ship “Comfort” solemnly arriving, we stood outside on the ferry dock for 5 hours before getting to the other side to our Jeep. From then, it was about an hour through traffic and security checks to get home at 10:30pm – total of 7 hour commute – but no complaints.
My cell phone sprang back into action this afternoon too – while waiting on the pier with thousands of others – my sister Mandy phoned from Australia – alas, we got cut off about 5 minutes into the call – sorry Mandy! It happened about the same time Bush’s helicopter took off from the pier a couple of hundred yards south, so it wasn’t my fault!
What was nice about the long wait – was that we were 2 of approximately 3,000 people waiting for the ferry – so over time, we started smiling, and talking — for many, it was the first time they had smiled since Tuesday morning. We had nothing better to do than to look at the fighter jets circling the city.
The city is starting to evolve its mood from fear, shock and grief to mourning, revenge and anger. Funerals started Friday. Grieving is slowing down, and people are starting to gain strength with the intention of getting back to normal, or, I suspect what will become a ‘new normal’.
Our office staff are meeting uptown tomorrow to come up with a plan. With no office, files, computers, contracts, cheques, banking records, invoices and bills, tapes etc.. etc… it will be rather a daunting process. I suspect we will shutter operations.
As the designated representative of the company, I shall be returning to the site, likely several times over the next few weeks to try and get more extracted. I am only allowed to take out what I can carry through the site, so from a large office, and many blocks to walk to the ferry, cross the river and get back to my car, it’s challenging.
UPDATE: MON, SEPT. 16, 2001
Well, the city is trying to get back to normal. However, several bridges, tunnels and transit services remain closed. The Lincoln Tunnel reopened this morning – however, every car, van and truck are subject to security checks. This involves ID checks, boot/trunk searches and mirrors on a stick looking under your vehicle. As a result, huge delays for people to get into and out of the city. What would normally take 25 minutes to commute into the city, this morning took 5 hours. Traffic was backed up for miles.
I’ve chosen to not use the tunnels for the time being, since, frankly, we don’t know what could happen next, and since the delays are so long, however, the ONLY other route in is via the ferry, and it’s port is next to the Lincoln Tunnel – as a result, any and all NJ commuters need to navigate through the tunnel area. The ferries are super busy, with additional ferries brought in from from other states to help with the load.
Nothing else really to report, other than some new photos of the site around my office, and the military hospital ship “Comfort” which solemnly sailed up the Hudson River to its port near the USS Intrepid on the weekend to serve as a refrigerated morgue overflow, and some more shots of the city.
It’s going to take months for the site to be cleared, due to sensitivity towards finding human remains. (it took 9 months of cleanup at ground zero (aka “the pile”) before the final steel column was removed in May 2002)
All our love to everyone, everywhere.
UPDATE: OCT 11, 2001
A few days after my diary notes and my photos appeared on my website last month, I was asked to lend my voice, along with several others, to a tribute from New Yorkers to the lives lost in the WTC disaster. 9/11 ONE tribute was composed by Carolyn Ranieri, it was released today.
UPDATE: MAR, 2002
DJ and I attended a memorial at ground zero, marking the 6-month anniversary. We spent some time at the family viewing platform, and family memorials, where DJ placed a teddy bear holding a Canadian and US flag with a candle, and then we went over to the illumination of the WTC Memorial lights – 308,000 watts of brilliant light, shooting up a mile into the sky, in 2 tower formations representing each of the 2 primary WTC complex buildings.
The lights were spectacular, and literally reached into the heavens – and can be clearly seen for at least a dozen miles away. It was an incredible feeling standing at it’s base and looking up at infinity. A wonderful way to remember my friend, and DJ’s cousin lost in the disaster. I only hope that the memorial may become a permanent fixture in the NY skyline.
Review our latest photos of the WTC site cleanup, city scenes, the new light memorial along with a collated chronology / timeline of the September 11 events, along with major newspaper headlines.
Scrolling below you will see photographs that I took in and around my office of the site destruction in the days/weeks following the attack that may be disturbing to you.
CLICK HERE TO SKIP THESE PHOTOS TO GO
DIRECTLY TO MY TIMELINE OF EVENTS…
9/11 TIMELINE OF EVENTS
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists who were members of Islamist extremist network al-Qaeda, hijacked 4 commercial airplanes. In a coordinated attack, the hijackers intentionally flew 2 of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and a 3rd into the Pentagon. Learning about the other hijackings, passengers and crew members on the 4th plane launched a counterattack, spurring the hijacker pilot to crash the plane into a field in Pennsylvania.
I assembled a timeline, from multiple sources, likely the most complete timeline of events on the web….
How the September 11 attacks unfolded in a single day
|5:45am||➤ Hijackers pass through security with box cutters in Portland, Maine, and board a flight to Boston’s Logan International Airport, where they connect to other flights.|
|7:59am||➤ American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767-223ER, destined for Los Angeles, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport.
➤ 11 crew members, 76 passengers, and 5 hijackers are on board.
|8:15am||➤ United Airlines Flight 175, Boeing 767-200, destined for Los Angeles, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport.
➤ 9 crew members, 51 passengers, and 5 hijackers are on board.
|8:19am||➤ Flight attendants aboard American Airlines Flight 11 alert ground personnel that the plane has been hijacked.
➤ American Airlines notifies the FBI.
|8:20am||➤ American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757-223, en route to Los Angeles, takes off from Washington, D.C., Dulles Airport
➤ 6 crew members, 53 passengers, and 5 hijackers are on board.
|8:24am||➤ Hijacker Mohammed Atta accidentally makes the first of 2 transmissions from American Airlines Flight 11 to air traffic control (apparently in an attempt to communicate with the plane’s cabin passengers).
➤ The pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, Victor J. Saracini, hears the accidental transmission and alerts the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just minutes before his own plane is hijacked.
|8:37am||➤ Boston air traffic control alerts the FAA|
|8:38am||➤ The FAA alert North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) about the suspected hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11.
➤ In response, 2 fighter planes located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base are scrambled to tail American Airlines Flight 11.
|8:41am||➤ United Airlines Flight 93, Boeing 757-222, destined for San Fransisco, takes off from Newark, NJ Airport following a delay on the ground of 40 minutes because of heavy airport congestion. It had been scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, around the time of the other hijacked flights.
➤ 7 crew members, 33 passengers, and 4 hijackers are on board.
|8:46am||➤ American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into floors 93 through 99 of the North Tower, WTC1.
➤ None of the three stairwells above the impact zone survive, permanently trapping the nearly 1,000 people still on the upper floors.
➤ Senior FDNY (NYC Fire Department) leadership, including the Battalion Chief witness it from the ground a few blocks away while checking a gas leak, respond within 5 seconds to the disaster, and immediately scramble to the WTC complex.
|8:47am||➤ NYPD (NYC Police) and FDNY forces dispatch units to the World Trade Center, while Port Authority Police Department officers on site begin immediate evacuation of the North Tower WTC1.
➤ Due to impact and ignited jet fuel, all elevators failed, fell, propelling fire balls down the shaft to explode at ground level, incinerating many on the ground.
|8:50am||➤ President George W. Bush, on a pre-scheduled visit to a second grade school classroom in Sarasota, Florida, learns of the crash in WTC1.
➤ At the time, TV media and the Presidents advisors assume this is a tragic accident of a small plane.
|8:59am||➤ Port Authority police order the evacuation of both towers.
➤ Only stairwells below the impact point can be used.
➤ While fire fighters climb up the stairs, office workers and visitors calmly evacuate down the stair wells in darkness.
|9:00am||➤ A flight attendant aboard United Airlines Flight 175 alerts air traffic control that a hijacking is underway.|
|9:02am||➤ After initially instructing tenants of the WTC’s South Tower (WTC2) to remain in the building, Port Authority officials broadcast orders to evacuate both towers via the public address system; an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 people are already in the process of evacuating in darkness down the stairwells as fire department first responder climb up.|
|9:03am||➤ United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into floors 77 through 85 of the South Tower, WTC2.
➤ Millions watched the second impact live on television.
➤ Only one stairwell above the impact zone remains intact.
|9:05am||➤ President Bush is alerted by his Chief of Staff, Andy Card that a second plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Andy Card said: “Mr. President, a second plane hit the second tower. American is under attack.”|
|9:05am||➤ American Airlines Flight 77 passenger Barbara Olson calls her husband, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who alerts other federal officials of the hijacking.|
|9:08am||➤ The FAA bans all takeoffs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.|
|9:12am||➤ Flight attendant Renee A. May aboard American Airlines Flight 77 calls family members and alert them to the hijacking. Her family alert American Airlines and federal officials.|
|9:21am||➤ The Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in the New York City, New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut area, and stops most trains and subways.|
|9:24am||➤ The FAA notified NORAD of the suspected hijacking of American Airlines Flight 77.
➤ North East Air Defense Sector (NEADS) scrambles 3 F-16 fighter jets from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia in search of American Airlines Flight 77.
|9:26am||➤ The FAA bans takeoffs of all civilian aircraft.|
|9:30am||➤ From a school in Florida, President Bush addresses the world on live TV, saying that “terrorism against our nation will not stand.”
➤ NY Waterways & Staten Island Ferries order all available ferries to head to Pier 1 and Battery Park in lower Manhattan pier to assist with evacuation of people to New Jersey. An estimated 200,000 were evacuated by NY Waterways & Staten Island ferries alone.
|9:36am||➤ Secret Service agents evacuate Vice President Dick Cheney to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a Cold War-era bunker beneath the White House.|
|9:37am||➤ American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the western façade of the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world.
➤ The crash impact and fire kill 59 on the plane and 125 on the ground.
➤ At the time, the 3 F-16 fighter jets from Langley Air Force Base are approximately 150 miles from Washington, DC.
|9:42am||➤ For the first time in history, the FAA (via Ben Sliney, the National Operations Manager) grounds 4,546 flights in USA airspace plus all flights bound for the continental United States, regardless of their destination. 9/11 was Ben Slineys’ first day on the job.
➤ David Collenette, Canada’s transport minister, followed suit, grounding all flights at Canadian airports. Canada’s military took control of the skies, implementing the Emergency Security Control of Air Traffic Plan.
➤ Over the next 2½ hours, ‘Operation Yellow Ribbon‘ saw 3,300 commercial flights and 1,200 private planes guided to land. International flights with enough fuel were told to return to their airport of origin, and the rest were diverted to airports across Canada.
➤ Transport Canada instructed not to redirect planes to large urban areas, such as Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and said 224 flights carrying 33,000 passengers landed on Canadian soil. Flights originating from Australasia were diverted to western Canada, where Vancouver International Airport received 34 planes with 8,500 passengers, the highest number, while planes on the transatlantic route were diverted to airports in Atlantic Canada, where Halifax International Airport alone received 47 planes carrying more than 7,000 passengers.
➤ In Gander, Newfoundland (previously an aviation hub), 6,595 people on 38 airplanes land at the airport’s previously empty runways while heartwarming people of Gander gave food, shelter and hospitality to the displaced people (as popularized in the musical & film “Come From Away“) where the population of the town almost doubled over the several days.
|9:45am||➤ The White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated (along with many other high-profile buildings, landmarks and public spaces).
➤ The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate were in session at the time of evacuation.
➤ To ensure the continuity of government, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is evacuated and secured.
|9:46am||➤ Vice President Dick Cheney, through the Secret Service, orders Andrew Air Force base to scramble fighter jets from the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard (without time to arm them with missiles, which would require at least another 20 minutes) to ram United Airlines Flight 93, as one of the fighter pilots, Heather Penney described, “We knew without missiles this would be a suicide mission. Like a kamikaze, neither of us would be coming back, in order to prevent more deaths” as she and fellow pilot Marc Sasseville planned for 1 fighter jet to ram the cockpit, and the other fighter jet to ram the tail of United Airlines Flight 93.|
|9:50am||➤ 13 of United Airlines Flight 93’s passengers and crew manage to alert loved ones and authorities to the plane’s hijacking. At least 6 learn about the attacks on the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. In response, Flight 93’s passengers and crew are believed to have collectively voted to mount a counterattack against the hijackers.|
|9:55am||➤ President Bush is airborne in Air Force One destined for a secure location at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. The pilot, after conferring with the lead Secret Service agent on board, flies the plane as high and fast as possible for better security. The President is then zig-zagged across the country on Air Force One where secret service felt that in the air was the safest place.
➤ In the North Tower firefighters reach as high as the 54th floor. The planes have severed key structural elements in both towers, but crucially they have also torn away vital fireproofing protecting the steel in the impact zones. It can no longer support the weight of the floors above.
➤ A helicopter pilot reports that the top storeys of the North Tower are ‘glowing red’ from the heat generated by the combustion of fuel oil, oxygen and building materials weakening the unprotected steel.
|9:57am||➤ At least 4 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 terminate phone calls with loved ones in order to attempt to storm and re-take the cockpit.
➤ With United Airlines Flight 93 at 5,000 feet above sea level, rapid, multiple 30 degree rolls to the left and right ensue. The cockpit voice recorder captures sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts and breaking glasses and plates. A native English speaking male voice or voices says “Let’s get them” Their struggle continues for the duration of the flight.
|9:58am||➤ United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Edward P. Felt is able to hide in a bathroom and make a phone call to 911.
➤ FDNY Battalion Chief Orio Palmer, reaches the impact zone of the South Tower WTC2 and reports there are people still alive, but gravely injured. He is just one of 2 firefighters who made it this high.
|9:59am||➤ The South Tower WTC2 collapses in 10 seconds after burning for 56 minutes.
➤ More than 800 people in and around the building are killed.
➤ The last survivor of WTC2 was Ron DiFrancesco from Canada, who was in his office on the 84th floor of WTC2 when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. DiFrancesco headed to the elevators but was thrown against the wall as United Flight 175 struck the building between the 77th and 85th floors where the starboard wing of the Boeing 767 sliced through the floor he was working on instantly killing many colleagues. DiFrancesco started down an emergency stairwell but at the 79th floor, the stairwell was blocked by a collapsed wall but he searched and found a hole in the wall and ran through flames and burning debris for the next 3 stories. As he reached ground level, WTC2 collapsed. He is believed to be the last person to make it out of the building alive, and 1 of only 4 people to escape who were working above the 81st floor, sustaining 80% burns to his body, a fractured vertebrae, deep lacerations on his head, and his contact lenses melted to his eyes.
|10:02am||➤ Fire chief orders the immediate evacuation of the North Tower, but not everyone hears the order, either because the radios don’t work or they are off-duty firefighters without radios.
➤ A fire chief on the 35th floor takes matter into his own hands, traveling the stairwells shouting through a megaphone: ‘get the f**k out!’ About 6,000 civilians of the 7,500 in the North Tower have been successfully evacuated.
➤ United Flight 93 passengers have broken into the cockpit and are fighting for the controls. ‘Turn it up!’ one shouts. ‘Down, down, pull it down! Pull it down!’ a hijacker yells. The plane is plunging to the ground. The Boeing 757 flips sideways and then completely upside down. As the struggle continues, one of the hijackers whispers in Arabic: ‘God is Greatest! God is Greatest!‘
|10:03am||➤ United Airlines Flight 93 cuts through power lines and crashes into a field in Somerset County near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 580 miles per hour, after passengers and crew storm the cockpit.
➤ It is assumed due to flight path down the Potomac River, the plane was about 20 minutes flying time on a path heading towards the symbolic Capitol Building.
➤ 40 passengers and crew on board perish.
|10:15am||➤ The Pentagon’s E Ring, a west-facing outer ring collapses.|
|10:28am||➤ The North Tower (WTC1) collapses after burning for 102 minutes.
➤ The 22-story, 825 room Marriott Hotel (WTC3) is destroyed by the collapse of WTC1.
➤ More than 1,600 people in and around the building are killed.
➤ Mobile / Cellular phone & other communications are virtually knocked out throughout the Tri-State area with the destruction of the 360 ft communications mast atop WTC1.
|11:02am||➤ New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani calls for the evacuation of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, including more than 1 million residents, workers and tourists, as efforts continue throughout the afternoon to search for survivors at the WTC site.|
|11:15am||➤ Having seen the NY Waterways evacuation underway with thousands of desperate New Yorkers trying to escape, and with all subways, trains, bridges and tunnels closed, the US Coast Guard request help over marine radio from all boats of any size (hundreds of tugboats, yachts, speedboats, sailboats, ferries, merchant marine, party boats, barges and more rallied) to execute an evacuation of an estimated half million people from seawalls, pier 11 and river edges of the island of Manhattan to New Jersey making it the largest marine evacuation in history (unplanned operation to rescue 500,000 civilians in a single 9 hour period), even greater than Dunkirk in WW2 (planned operation to rescue 339,000 soldiers over 9 days).|
|12:16pm||➤ The last flight still in the air above the continental United States lands.|
|12:36pm||➤ At Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, President Bush goes on TV to express the nation’s resolve to defend against terrorism, and announces that U.S. military forces are on high alert worldwide, known as ‘Force Protection Condition Delta’.|
|12:41pm||➤ Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee tells CNN, “Both the FBI and our intelligence community believe that this is Bin Laden’s signature.” (The next day, Hatch was told in a briefing that electronic intercepts on September 11 showed “representatives affiliated with Osama bin Laden over the airwaves reporting that they had hit two targets.”)|
|1:20pm||➤ President Bush leaves Louisiana on Air Force One for a U.S. Strategic Command bunker at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where he again addresses the nation on TV.|
|2:51pm||➤ The U.S. Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York and Washington, D.C.|
|3:00pm||➤ A single survivor, Pasquale Buzzelli, 34-year-old structural engineer who worked for the Port Authority on the 64th floor of WTC1 (North Tower) is rescued from the rubble of the North Tower having reached the 22nd floor down Stairwell B as WTC1 started to fall, protected in the fall by a slab of concrete as the building collapsed 180 feet to the ground which entombed him in a claustrophobic bubble.|
|4:00pm||➤ National news outlets report that high officials in the federal intelligence community are stating that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network is suspect #1.|
|4:36pm||➤ President Bush departs Nebraska on Air Force One for Washington, D.C.|
|5:20pm||➤ After burning for hours, 7 World Trade Center collapses
➤ WTC7 contained the NYC Office of Emergency Management
|6:30pm||➤ President Bush is in the presidential helicopter Marine One over Washington; it is flying low and zig-zagging to deter a ground attack. He can see smoke rising from the Pentagon. Bush turns to his chief of staff Andy Card and says: ‘You’re looking at the first war of the 21st century.’|
|6:54pm||➤ President Bush arrives back at the White House.|
|7:00pm||➤ Relatives and friends of likely victims, many displaying photographs appeared around New York. The New York Armory at Lexington Avenue and 26th Street and Union Square Park at 14th Street and Broadway become centers of vigil.
➤ At the scene of the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, the FBI and the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department are searching for wreckage and human remains. Splinters of metal are embedded in trees, and clothing hangs from branches; on the ground are oxygen masks, shoes, dollar bills, seat buckles and a bank card belonging to a hijacker that will provide a vital clue to how the attacks were financed.
|7:24pm||➤ Members of Congress join on the steps of the United States Capitol and sing “God Bless America“|
|~8:00pm||➤ Port Authority Police Officer Will Jimeno, who was in an underground corridor between the two towers, is found alive deep in the rubble pit by U.S. Marines Jason Thomas & Dave Karnes (retired), and after hours of medical assistance by Charles Sereika (a retired paramedic) along with ground zero workers clearing a path down to reach him, eventually freed him at 11:00 pm.|
|8:30pm||➤ President Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office in a speech that laid out a key doctrine of his administration’s future foreign policy: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them” while calling the attacks “evil, despicable acts of terror”|
|9:00pm||➤ President Bush meets with his full National Security Council|
|~9:30pm||➤ President Bush meets with a small group of key advisers. Bush and his advisers have evidence that Osama bin Laden is behind the attacks. Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, “Tell the Taliban we’re finished with them.”|
|11:00pm||➤ After trapped under rubble for 13 hours, Will Jimeno is dug out alive. They learn that Port Authority police sergeant John McLoughlin is also trapped nearby. They will eventually dig him out at 8:00 am the next morning.|
|11:30pm||➤ In his White House bedroom, President Bush enters into his personal journal: “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today…We think it’s Osama bin Laden.”|
The attack on the World Trade Centre claimed an estimated 2,753 lives; and more than 220 other people were killed in Washington, DC, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All told, roughly more than 2,973 (some reports at 2,977) people were killed (excluding the soulless suicidal hijackers) the day of the attacks, the single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil. Medical authorities have said that more than 1,000 other people have been diagnosed with cancers relating to the toxic fumes and smoke from the disaster site.
The remains of more than 1,100 victims — about 40% of those who died there — are yet to be identified.
The World Trade Center attacks alone resulting in an estimated damage cost of $60 billion.
Approximately 2 billion people, almost a ⅓ of the world’s population, witnessed the tragic events live via television, radio and the internet.
Scrolling below you can see major global newspaper covers reporting the attacks with photos of the airplane impacts into the buildings that may be disturbing to you, along with various WTC brochures printed before the attacks.
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NEWSPAPERS & BROCHURES
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MY NOTES 20 YEARS LATER…
20 YEARS LATER…
20 YEARS LATER…
A few months after the events of 9/11, DJ and I bought a farm on the US/CA border, yet I continued to commute to NYC for work. Shortly after that, we relocated to China, where we are today.
USA and Canadian TV news reports on the 20th anniversary include stories about the loss of DJ’s cousin Ken Basnicki and the focus of his wife Maureen, daughter Erica & son Brennan in maintaining legacy:
- Basnicki family creates legacy after 9/11 (CityTV News)
- 9/11: 20 Years Later - Women of Resilience (ABC News)
- Families of Canadian 9-11 victims look back (GlobalNews)
9/11 victims are still being identified, 20 years later. Families of victims, witnesses to the events and people from many nations, faiths and backgrounds still feel the pain.
My Facebook comment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s September 11 anniversary message to President Biden of the USA received a like from HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York (official) within seconds of my posting.
During that tumultuous week, NYC endured a lot, was strained to its limits, but the one great thing to come of 9/11 was that when it was needed the most, communities joined together with resilience and determination. People helping people with compassion and sensibility. Sadly, generally, those traits are now long gone, and I sincerely wish the love humanity, of fellow humans, of common sense of the “we” mentality would return.
It’s a race against time to educate the younger generations who do not know very much (or in the case of some places, nothing) about 9/11. Many do not believe, or understand it’s significance to the world pivoting that day to a very different place.
The acrid miasma of 91,000 liters of jet fuel and the 10 million tons of building materials and WTC contents burning at temperatures above 1,000° celsius (1,800°F) extended from lower Manhattan across the rivers and beyond for over 3 months until December 19.
Those in lower Manhattan were bathed in the dust for about 3 weeks after the collapse, which cooked together the components of the buildings and their contents, which gave off gases of toxic metals, acids and organics that embedded deep in the lungs when inhaled and irritated eyes, nose and throat.
So what exactly was in that toxic smoke and dust? No one knows for sure, but after decades of the WTC use, scientists and the EPA say most likely a cooked combination of:
- jet fuel, oil, gasoline & diesel;
- 300,000 tons of structural steel;
- 10,000 tons of aluminum;
- 2.5 million tons of concrete;
- pulverized building materials such as iron & gypsum from drywall;
- 100’s of miles of electric cables including lead, polyvinyl chloride and copper;
- 400 tons of asbestos, used in the construction of the North tower;
- 50,000 computers with dioxins, mercury and other hazardous substances;
- 100,000 fluorescent lights containing mercury;
- office furniture including wood, laminates, plastic & steel;
- volatile organic compounds such as paint and stain;
- over 2,000 crushed cars and trucks, most with loaded fuel tanks;
- more than 350,000 liters of human sewerage waste;
- more than 90,000 glass windows;
- synthetic molecules from rugs, glass fibers & human hair;
- insulation including wool, fiberglass & other fibers;
- human remains and other biological materials;
- 490,000 liters of Con Edison transformer oil contaminated with PCBs under WTC7;
The toxicity of the dust caused the ailment to be dubbed “World Trade Center cough” by the New England Journal of Medicine, which doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York estimate afflicted nearly half of those who were near the site. Dioxins were the highest ambient measurements of dioxin ever recorded anywhere in the world.
DJ’s asthma progressively got much worse, very fast. I seem to have been spared from respiratory side effects, yet I am supersensitive to dust and mould particles since 9/11, which I never was before.
To this day, over 20 years later, apart from the obvious visuals, the smell cannot be forgotten. Any smoky mix of burnt plastic and other smolderings instantly bring back memories of the aftermath of the collapse of the two towers.
Despite the sights I saw and witnessed, possibly due my military family background and the images associated with family at war which I had seen for decades, other than random and very occasional flashbacks of the 9/11 events, and the bigger nightmare of having to instantly reinvent new income streams, I believe I came through with minimal or no mental health issues.
WELFARE / INCOME
My Broadway Archive company shuttered with the destruction of our offices and I needed to find new sources of income. This involved pioneering using Broadway expertise putting Broadway style shows into Europe on cruise ships; developing international markets with theatre facilities in Turkey, Taiwan and China; pioneering Broadway standards and concepts with mainland China; touring shows in the Australasian markets from South Korea through Taiwan to Singapore; film & TV production and theatrical consulting.
The events of that day, and the days that followed, shall never be forgotten, nor should they. It was a turning point in history, and in our lives. In an instant, everything changed. We were the lucky ones.
September 11, 2021
For the official 9/11 Memorial, visit https://www.911memorial.org
For the official 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, visit https://pentagonmemorial.org
In 2004 Maureen Basnicki co-founded the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, to battle against terrorism, visit https://c-catcanada.org