My 9/11/2001 Experience:
I worked for the Port Authority from 1987
to 2017, and during this period there were several events that had a
profound effect upon my view of the agency. Certainly, the most profound
was the events of September 11, 2001.
On that day, I was in my office on the
68th floor of One World Trade Center preparing for a 9:00 o’clock
meeting with two colleagues from Risk Management, Jean Andrucki and
Barry Glick. Six weeks prior, the agency had entered into an agreement
with Silverstein Properties to lease the World Trade Center (WTC). At
that time, I was one of the attorneys in the Law Department assigned to
the 1993 WTC Bombing Litigation (“1993 WTC Bombing”). As a result, my
colleagues had scheduled the meeting to review the litigated matter.
Just before leaving for the meeting, I
stopped in the restroom. While there, I felt the entire building shake
as I had never experienced before, and the toilets all flushed at once!
When I made my way back to my desk, everyone had left the floor.
However, the phones continued to ring and when I answered one of them
the caller advised me that he was calling from PAPD.
The officer informed me that a plane had
hit the building. In light of my experience with the 1993 WTC Bombing, I
knew there would be numerous lawsuits, so I decided that I needed to
stay and get to work. Subsequently, I received a call from Gerry
Crowley, who had recently been promoted to the Chief of New York
Litigation. Gerry warned me that the building was on fire and urged me
to leave. I explained to him that a plane had struck the building and
there would be many lawsuits. I also thought that it was safer to remain
in my office since except for the six people killed in 1993, most of the
injuries were due to smoke inhalation by people who were forced to walk
down the smoke-filled stairwells.
As 9:00 o’clock approached, I decided to
tune my radio to 1010 WINS so I could hear the news. Coincidentally, the
fire alarms went off right at the time the news would come on, so I
immediately left the floor as we had been instructed to do on numerous
occasions. When I entered the stairwell, there were already many people
making their way down as well as firefighters on their way up to the
location of the disaster. I made my way down to the Concourse level just
before the collapse of the South Tower but did not make it out of the
complex. The last thing I remembered was someone saying take cover
before the entire complex went dark and I was caught in what felt like a
tsunami. Next, I remembered seeing bright lights from the rescuers who
assisted me in getting out. Unfortunately, 84 of my colleagues,
including Jean and Barry, did not make it.