Sunday, April 07, 2013

Ground zero, 6 years later



"I was here for 5 days. We stayed in St. Paul's Chapel, over there. We were helping the rescue workers, supporting them, giving them food, and new boots. Cause the boots would melt from all the heat, you know? The pile of rubble was 12 stories high, and it was like matches all piled up, ready to ignite, or break. The fire under that pile burned for days and days."

- F., 70 e poucos anos, no seu primeiro regresso ao ground zero, cinco anos e uma semana depois de lá ter estado pela última vez.


"8h26, I'm on the 98th floor of the North Tower. At that same time American flight 11 deviates from its course and heads south to New York. I get called to the 35th floor a couple of minutes later. That's where I am at 8h46. I feel the building shake. "What the hell is this?" I was chief security so I go outside and I hear on my radio "A plane hit the building! A plane hit the building!" I thought some guy on a Cessna or Falcon had hit the tower. I only saw the smoke, I couldn't see the size of the hole, you see? "Ok, no big deal, we'll solve this. Let's evacuate those floors and put down the fire". So I set up an evacuation route and start directing people. I didn't know what was happening, you were seeing it all on TV, but I had no idea what was going on. I remember many things, but not by the right order. Many people were murdered that day. That's what's written on their death certificates. Homicide. I went back to the tower with the firemen, we were first responders. We went up until we couldn't go up anymore and then we started to go down floor by floor. "Is there anyone on this floor?" When we got to the 9th floor, the firemen told me to go out. There were no offices between the 9th floor and the ground floor, you see? It was just equipment, those were technical floors. So I get out and I head north. I go past the north bridge and I see the chief of police. I was on my way to him when I get thrown out in the air. The North Tower had just collapsed on us. I get up, I can't breathe. I couldn't see. Swear to God, I couldn't see anything, thick dust, rubble, everywhere. I start to walk very slowly, trying to get a hold on something, like when you are on a dark room. Then I start to see a faint red light, blinking. Very faint, it was dimmer than a candle. It was a fire truck's light bar, you know that very bright red light? I was standing a palm away from it, I could barely see it. That light saved my life."

- V. 70 e poucos anos, a poucos metros do local onde estava a Torre Norte há 11 anos e meio atrás. Atrás dele e com a mesma altura da Torre Norte ergue-se hoje o 1 WTC, a Freedom Tower. À sua frente, outra sobrevivente, a última a ser retirada com vida dos escombros e que haveria ainda de resistir ao furacão Sandy e a um relâmpago que a cortou ao meio. A survivor tree.