Software

A member's e-mails offer a glimpse of World Trade Center tragedy

A wireless device enabled a TechRepublic member from New York City to stay connected to coworkers, family, and friends during the attack on the World Trade Center. He shared these e-mail transcripts to provide a look at how events unfolded around him.


All of us—especially those who live in the United States—will always remember Sept. 11, 2001. It was a day when we saw many people a lot like ourselves, IT professionals and otherwise, go to work or set off on a business trip and never come home.

Those who were physically distanced from the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC, experienced the many emotions of the day, clinging to television and radio reports telling us the latest details. However, those who actually witnessed the events of Sept. 11 have stories that the rest of us can scarcely fathom.

Shortly after the attacks, TechRepublic columnist Mike Talon, who works in New York City, shared the story of how his wireless e-mail device was the only method of communication that he had during the World Trade Center attacks. After reading Mike’s article, member Jim Reilly, who also works in New York, e-mailed us and told us that he also used his wireless e-mail device to communicate with coworkers, family, and friends during the tense moments surrounding the attacks.

“I was two blocks away from the Trade Center, looking at the first tower [which had already been hit] when my partner and I witnessed the second attack,” Jim said. “I transcribed the conversations I was able to have while holed up on Broad Street in Manhattan.”

Jim is a 41-year-old father of three who lives in Eatontown, NJ, and works at the New York Stock Exchange. He agreed to let us publish his complete e-mail transcripts, which provide a chilling account of what it was like to be near ground zero in New York City on Sept. 11.

Like Mike’s account, Jim’s messages show how modern technology enabled a form of rapid communication that allayed fears and saved anguish during this catastrophe. However, these messages also provide an inside look at the raw emotions of that day. We have reproduced these messages in their original form, with Jim’s comments in brackets.

Jim’s e-mails from Sept. 11
To: everyone [e-mail addresses of everyone I know]

Subject:

Ok here. Watching news at office

 

To: everyone

Subject:

Hi we were down broadway and there was a second explosion

 

To: everyone

Subject:Plane crash

Kevin  and I walked down to Chase Plaza. Then there was a second explosion which we both saw

 

From: Richard [my brother in Jacksonville, FL]

Subject: World Trade Center accident

Apparently, there were a couple of allegedly intentional plane crashes into the Twin Towers. Are you OK?

 

To: Richard

Subject:re: World Trade Center accident

Yeah we were down by chase plaza we saw the second explosion

 

From: Donna [my sister who works uptown]

Subject:Re:

You have more brains than our brothers who WORK at the WTC...we have not heard from either one...have you? They say it was a hijack and then a second suicide. Can you believe this???

 

From: Richard

Subject:re: World Trade Center accident

I'm sure access is going to be restricted like hell, but if you track down Steven and Brian [These are my brothers who work in the WTC] please let Mom know so she can pass the word on. You be careful!!!!

 

To: Richard

Subject:re[2]: World Trade Center accident

Call Mom I cannot get through. Tell her I am ok and to use this address for

email.

 

From: Barbara

Subject:Re: (no subject)

jimmy please call me to tell me you're alive

To: everyone

Subject: I'm here in the city

Apparently someone crashed planes into the World Trade Center. There was one hit and then me and Kevin were a block away and there was a second explosion. We got hit with flying shit all over and the whole city started running. Very scary

 

To: Barbara

Subject:

No phone service can't call

 

To: Barbara

Subject:re[2]: re[2]:

We're all outside on the streets. Me and Kevin were right there for the second explosion

 

To: Donna

Subject:re[2]: re[2]:

Any word from the boys?

 

From: Barbara

Subject:Re: (no subject)

are you ok

 

To: Barbara

Subject:re[2]: (no subject)

First time ever so scared that I was shaking. Still frightened. We were right there for a second explosion

 

From: Richard.

Subject:Re: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

I spoke with her and let her know all this. Keep in touch.

 

To: everyone

Subject:re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

Use email phones are down

 

To: Barbara

Subject: re[2]: (no subject)

Barbara it is horrible. Please get prayers going

 

From: Barbara

Subject:Re: (no subject)

please call me on your cell phone

 

From: Richard

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

I figured as much and told mom to do so as well. This shit is like the Die Hard 3 movie - all circuits are busy and 911 is probably swamped. Are you being evacuated?

 

To: Richard

Subject:re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

We are still in the street.

 

From: Donna

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]:

No word from either one of them. Brian would definitely have been there. Steven is probably sitting on the train. His cell phone is probably on the floor of his car...

 

To: Barbara

Subject:re[2]: (no subject)

Cell phones are down. No phones in city

 

To: Donna

Subject:re[2]: re[2]: re[2]:

I am just a tad frightened. I was one block away when the second explosion hit. The whole city started running at me and Kevin.

From: Richard

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

I've got shivers running up and down my spine. Thank God nothing happened. I heard they're evacuating. Can't you get off the street and head home?

 

From: Donna

Subject:Re: re[2]:

They closed Grand Central, so half my staff is sitting on Metro North...Did they close NYSE?

 

To: Richard

Subject:re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

Too scared to move

 

From: Mom

Subject:Re:

Haven't heard from Brian or Steven yet. Is this unbelievable or what?

 

From: Donna

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]:

They hit the Pentagon...White house is evacuating...

 

From: Barbara

Subject:Re: re[2]: (no subject)

ok word is out in the school i have to get to justina and thomas to tell them you are ok

 

To: Mom

Subject:re[2]:

Mom we left the NYSE wandered up Nassau Street. We were by chase plaza at Marine Midland looking when the second explosion hit. Right in our face. The whole city started to run right at me and Kevin McMahon. We got covered with debris. We saw what looked like people jumping

 

From: Richard

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center accident

Who knows what's next?!? So, keep your wits about you! Get outta there the first opportunity you can.

 

From: Mom

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]:

Brian is also there somewhere. Still haven't heard from Steven. Cell phone service is out.

 

To: Mom

Subject:re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]:

I went to look for my brothers. That was not a good idea. I got smoked and dusted real good. It is the worst thing ever. Goddamn cellphones don't work

 

From: Amanda

Subject:RE: re[2]: re[2]:

Outside?..are you going home.

 

From: Karen

Subject:Re: (no subject)

oh my god, i can imagine. i can't get a call into any of Manhattan, and no one from ML is on IM. this is unbelievable. do you feel safe?

 

From: Amanda

Subject:RE: re[2]: re[2]:

are you guys okay...please answer me…was the financial center hit.

 

To: Richard

Subject:Re: : re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]. World Trade Center accident

I am on a ferry out of here.

 

From: Richard

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: World Trade Center

accident

Thank God! Above all, remain calm and alert.
Here's what the news is saying: apparently this a coordinated attack on NY and DC (and elsewhere??). Apparently a United Airlines flight from Boston to LA was commandeered and crashed into the Tower. Don't know anything about the first plane. Apparently, an attack was aimed at the Pentagon. There are also reports of attacks on the Washington Mall. FAA has shutdown everything. Keep in touch and get outta there as soon as possible.

From: Candie

Subject:HEY!!!

I have no idea where you work in Manhatten....PLEASE PLEASE let me know you are ok.

 

To: everyone

Subject: I think maybe another plane just hit. There is a huge cloud all over us. [This is when the first tower had fallen.] Someone talk at me. Anyone hear anything?

 

From: Mom

Subject:(no subject)

Are you still ok. Nothing from Steven and now the both towers are gone

 

To: Mom

Subject:re[2]: (no subject)

I made it to the Ferry with some lady riding me piggybacked. We couldn't see anything when that building fell

 

From: Mom

Subject:Re: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]: re[2]:

Donna said you are on your way home. Will keep in touch. I'm sure that the cell phones were affected because of the WTC being blown up, absolutely unable to believe what we are witnessing. Will be in touch. luv ya

 

From: Mom

Subject:Re:

Nothing yet. Will keep in touch and will keep trying.

 

From: Karen

Subject:Re: (no subject)

so you are on your way home? thank god. i'm so glad the ferries are at least running.

 

From: Mom

Subject:Re: (no subject)

Will let you know if we hear anything.

 

From: Elizabeth

Subject:Re: — No Subject —

Please tell me you are ok...call me ASAP: (xxx) xxx-xxxx

am so so worried!!!!

 

From: Amanda

Subject:RE:

please please tell me you allright..

was the financial center hit..

 

From: Amanda

Subject:RE:

where are you now.

 

From: Sean

Subject:Re:

BC is still in the job. Haven't heard from Satan or Jim [Sean is a coworker referring to our friends from work, one of whom is called Satan.] Any news on the LI guys?

 

From: Kathleen

Subject:re[2]:

Good to hear. I'll talk to you later and we'll stay in touch. Looks like I'll head to staten island with eddie g.

 

From: Sean

Subject:re[3]:

Yeah. shaky but ok.

 

From: Kathleen

Subject:re[3]:

Hey babe. A lot of people leaving. Its 12:30. I'm w/ ed g. On a tug to staten island. Where are you,???

 

To: everyone

Subject:re[4]:

I made it to Bobby's town he is driving me. Where is everybody?

 

From: Sean

Subject:re[4]:

Heading uptown on the eastside. Satan made it to Hoboken he was at the marina when the building went down.

 

From: Kathleen

Subject:re[4]:

That's incredibly great news. I'll stay in touch. Gracie, sue c. And a whole crew left together.

 

To: everyone:

I made it to NJ. I am going home…

 

[Note: My brothers both made it out okay as well.]

How did people in your office react when they heard the news?
How have these events changed how people in your organization feel about their safety both in the office and during business travel? Join the discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.

 

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