87th floor

  1. > A STORY FROM THE 87th FLOOR TO THE WORLD
    > > >
    > > > by Adam Mayblum
    > > >
    > > > ________________________
    > > >
    > > > THE PRICE WE PAY:
    > > >
    > > > My name is Adam Mayblum. I am alive
    > > > today. I am committing this to "paper"
    > > > so I never forget. SO WE NEVER FORGET. I am
    > > > sure that this is one of thousands of stories
    > > > that will emerge over the next several days
    > > > and weeks.
    > > >
    > > > I arrived as usual a little before 8 AM. My
    > > > office was on the 87th floor of 1 World
    > > > Trade Center, AKA: Tower 1, AKA: the North
    > > > Tower. Most of my associates were in by
    > > > 8:30 AM. We were standing around, joking
    > > > around, eating breakfast, checking e-mails,
    > > > and getting set for the day when the first
    > > > plane hit just a few stories above us.
    > > >
    > > > I must stress that we did not know that
    > > > it was a plane. The building lurched violently
    > > > and shook as if it were an earthquake. People
    > > > screamed. I watched out my window as the
    > > > building seemed to move 10 to 20 feet in
    > > > each direction. It rumbled and shook long
    > > > enough for me to get my wits about myself
    > > > and grab a co-worker and seek shelter under
    > > > a doorway. Light fixtures and parts of the
    > > > ceiling collapsed. The kitchen was destroyed.
    > > > We were certain that it was a bomb. We
    > > > looked out the windows. Reams of paper were
    > > > flying everywhere, like a ticker tape parade.
    > > > I looked down at the street. I could see
    > > > people in Battery Park City looking up. Smoke
    > > > started billowing in through the holes in the
    > > > ceiling. I believe that there were 13 of us.
    > > >
    > > > We did not panic. I can only assume that
    > > > we thought that the worst was over. The
    > > > building was standing and we were shaken
    > > > but alive. We checked the halls. The smoke
    > > > was thick and white and did not smell like I
    > > > imagined smoke should smell. Not like your
    > > > BBQ or your fireplace or even a bonfire. The
    > > > phones were working. My wife had taken our
    > > > 9 month old for his check up. I called my
    > > > nanny at home and told her to page my wife,
    > > > tell her that a bomb went off, I was OK, and
    > > > on my way out. I grabbed my laptop, took off
    > > > my tee shirt and ripped it into 3 pieces.
    > > > Soaked it in water. Gave 2 pieces to my
    > > > friends. Tied my piece around my face to act
    > > > as an air filter. And we all started moving to
    > > > the staircase.
    > > >
    > > > One of my dearest friends said that he
    > > > was staying until the police or firemen came
    > > > to get him. In the halls there were tiny fires
    > > > and sparks. The ceiling had collapsed in the
    > > > men's bathroom. It was gone -- along with
    > > > anyone who may have been in there. We did
    > > > not go in to look. We missed the staircase on
    > > > the first run and had to double back. Once in
    > > > the staircase we picked up fire extinguishers
    > > > just in case.
    > > >
    > > > On the 85th floor a brave associate of
    > > > mine and I headed back up to our office to
    > > > drag out my partner who stayed behind. There
    > > > was no air, just white smoke. We made the
    > > > rounds through the office calling his name.
    > > > No response. He must have succumbed to the
    > > > smoke. We left defeated in our efforts and
    > > > made our way back to the stairwell. We
    > > > proceeded to the 78th floor where we had to
    > > > change over to a different stairwell. 78 is
    > > > the main junction to switch to the upper
    > > > floors. I expected to see more people. There
    > > > were some 50 to 60 more. Not enough. Wires
    > > > and fires all over the place. Smoke too. A
    > > > brave man was fighting a fire with the
    > > > emergency hose. I stopped with to friends to
    > > > make sure that everyone from our office was
    > > > accounted for. We ushered them and confused
    > > > people into the stairwell. In retrospect, I
    > > > recall seeing Harry, my head trader, doing
    > > > the same several yards behind me. I am only
    > > > 35. I have known him for over 14 years. I
    > > > headed into the stairwell with 2 friends.
    > > >
    > > > We were moving down very orderly in
    > > > Stair Case A. Very slowly. No panic. At least not overt
    > > > panic. My legs could not stop shaking. My heart was
    > > > pounding. Some nervous jokes and laughter. I made a
    > > > crack about ruining a brand new pair of Merrells.
    > > > Even still, they were right, my feet felt
    > > > great. We all laughed. We checked our cell
    > > > phones. Surprisingly, there was a very good
    > > > signal, but the Sprint network was jammed. I
    > > > heard that the Blackberry 2 way e-mail
    > > > devices worked perfectly. On the phones, 1
    > > > out of 20 dial attempts got through. I knew I
    > > > could not reach my wife so I called my
    > > > parents. I told them what happened and that
    > > > we were all okay and on the way down. Soon,
    > > > my sister in law reached me. I told her we
    > > > were fine and moving down. I believe that
    > > > was about the 65th floor.
    > > >
    > > > We were bored and nervous. I called my
    > > > friend Angel in San Francisco. I knew he
    > > > would be watching. He was amazed I was on
    > > > the phone. He told me to get out that there
    > > > was another plane on its way. I did not know
    > > > what he was talking about. By now the
    > > > second plane had struck Tower 2. We were so
    > > > deep into the middle of our building that we
    > > > did not hear or feel anything. We had no idea
    > > > what was really going on. We kept making
    > > > way for wounded to go down ahead of us. Not
    > > > many of them, just a few. No one seemed
    > > > seriously wounded. Just some cuts and
    > > > scrapes. Everyone cooperated. Everyone was a
    > > > hero yesterday. No questions asked. I had co-
    > > > workers in another office on the 77th floor. I
    > > > tried dozens of times to get them on their
    > > > cell phones or office lines. It was futile.
    > > > Later I found that they were alive. One of the
    > > > many miracles on a day of tragedy.
    > > >
    > > > On the 53rd floor we came across a very
    > > > heavyset man sitting on the stairs. I asked if
    > > > he needed help or was he just resting. He
    > > > needed help. I knew I would have trouble
    > > > carrying him because I have a very bad back.
    > > > But my friend and I offered anyway. We told
    > > > him he could lean on us. He hesitated, I don't
    > > > know why. I said do you want to come or do
    > > > you want us to send help for you. He chose
    > > > for help. I told him he was on the 53rd floor
    > > > in Stairwell A and that's what I would tell
    > > > the rescue workers. He said okay and we left.
    > > >
    > > > On the 44th floor my phone rang again. It
    > > > was my parents. They were hysterical. I said
    > > > relax, I'm fine. My father said get out, there
    > > > is third plane coming. I still did not
    > > > understand. I was kind of angry. What did my
    > > > parents think? Like I needed some other
    > > > reason to get going? I couldn't move the
    > > > thousand people in front of me any faster. I
    > > > know they love me, but no one inside
    > > > understood what the situation really was. My
    > > > parents did. Starting around this floor the
    > > > firemen, policemen, WTC K-9 units without
    > > > the dogs, anyone with a badge, started
    > > > coming up as we were heading down. I
    > > > stopped a lot of them and told them about the
    > > > man on 53 and my friend on 87. I later felt
    > > > terrible about this. They headed up to find
    > > > those people and met death instead.
    > > >
    > > > On the 33rd floor I spoke with a man who
    > > > somehow new most of the details. He said 2
    > > > small planes hit the building. Now we all
    > > > started talking about which terrorist group
    > > > it was. Was it an internal organization or an
    > > > external one? The overwhelming but
    > > > uninformed opinion was Islamic Fanatics.
    > > > Regardless, we now knew that it was not a
    > > > bomb and there were potentially more planes
    > > > coming. We understood.
    > > >
    > > > On the 3rd floor the lights went out and
    > > > we heard & felt this rumbling coming
    > > > towards us from above. I thought the
    > > > staircase was collapsing upon itself. It was
    > > > 10 AM now and that was Tower 2 collapsing
    > > > next door. We did not know that. Someone had
    > > > a flashlight. We passed it forward and left
    > > > the stairwell and headed down a dark and
    > > > cramped corridor to an exit. We could not see
    > > > at all. I recommended that everyone place a
    > > > hand on the shoulder of the person in front of
    > > > them and call out if they hit an obstacle so
    > > > others would know to avoid it. They did. It
    > > > worked perfectly.
    > > >
    > > > We reached another stairwell and saw a
    > > > female officer emerge soaking wet and
    > > > covered in soot. She said we could not go
    > > > that way it was blocked. Go up to 4 and use
    > > > the other exit. Just as we started up she said
    > > > it was OK to go down instead. There was
    > > > water everywhere. I called out for hands on
    > > > shoulders again and she said that was a great
    > > > idea. She stayed behind instructing people to
    > > > do that. I do not know what happened to her.
    > > >
    > > > We emerged into an enormous room. It
    > > > was light but filled with smoke. I commented
    > > > to a friend that it must be under
    > > > construction. Then we realized where we
    > > > were. It was the second floor. The one that
    > > > overlooks the lobby. We were ushered out
    > > > into the courtyard, the one where the
    > > > fountain used to be. My first thought was of a
    > > > TV movie I saw once about nuclear winter
    > > > and fallout. I could not understand where all
    > > > of the debris came from. There was at least
    > > > five inches of this gray pasty dusty drywall
    > > > soot on the ground as well as a thickness of
    > > > it in the air. Twisted steel and wires. I heard
    > > > there were bodies and body parts as well, but
    > > > I did not look. It was bad enough.
    > > >
    > > > We hid under the remaining overhangs and
    > > > moved out to the street. We were told to
    > > > keep walking towards Houston Street. The
    > > > odd thing is that there were very few rescue
    > > > workers around. Less than five. They all must
    > > > have been trapped under the debris when
    > > > Tower 2 fell. We did not know that and could
    > > > not understand where all of that debris came
    > > > from. It was just my friend Kern and I now.
    > > > We were hugging but sad. We felt certain
    > > > that most of our friends ahead of us died and
    > > > we knew no one behind us.
    > > >
    > > > We came upon a post office several blocks
    > > > away. We stopped and looked up. Our building,
    > > > exactly where our office is (was), was
    > > > engulfed in flame and smoke. A postal worker
    > > > said that Tower 2 had fallen down. I looked
    > > > again and sure enough it was gone. My heart
    > > > was racing. We kept trying to call our
    > > > families. I could not get in touch with my
    > > > wife. Finally I got through to my parents.
    > > > Relived is not the word to explain their
    > > > feelings. They got through to my wife, thank
    > > > God and let her know I was alive. We sat
    > > > down. A girl on a bike offered us some water.
    > > > Just as she took the cap off her bottle we
    > > > heard a rumble. We looked up and our
    > > > building, Tower 1 collapsed. I did not note
    > > > the time but I am told it was 10:30 AM. We
    > > > had been out less than 15 minutes.
    > > >
    > > > We were mourning our lost friends,
    > > > particularly the one who stayed in the office
    > > > as we were now sure that he had perished.
    > > > We started walking towards Union Square. I
    > > > Was going to Beth Israel Medical Center to be
    > > > looked at. We stopped to hear the President
    > > > speaking on the radio. My phone rang. It was
    > > > my wife. I think I fell to my knees crying
    > > > when I heard her voice. Then she told me the
    > > > most incredible thing. My partner who had
    > > > stayed behind called her. He was alive and
    > > > Well. I guess we just lost him in the
    > > > commotion. We started jumping and hugging
    > > > and shouting. I told my wife that my brother
    > > > had arranged for a hotel in midtown. He can
    > > > be very resourceful in that way. I told her I
    > > > would call her from there. My brother and I
    > > > managed to get a gypsy cab to take us home
    > > > to Westchester instead. I cried on my son and
    > > > held my wife until I fell asleep.
    > > >
    > > > As it turns out my partner, the one who I
    > > > thought had stayed behind was behind us
    > > > with Harry Ramos, our head trader. This is
    > > > now second hand information. They came
    > > > upon Victor, the heavyset man on the 53rd
    > > > floor. They helped him. He could barely move.
    > > > My partner bravely/stupidly tested the
    > > > elevator on the 52nd floor. He rode it down to
    > > > the sky lobby on 44. The doors opened, it was
    > > > fine. He rode it back up and got Harry and
    > > > Victor. I don't yet know if anyone else joined
    > > > them.
    > > >
    > > > Once on 44 they made their way back into
    > > > the stairwell. Someplace around the 39th to
    > > > 36th floors they felt the same rumble I felt
    > > > on the 3rd floor. It was 10 AM and Tower 2
    > > > was coming down. They had about 30 minutes
    > > > to get out. Victor said he could no longer
    > > > move. They offered to have him lead on them.
    > > > He said he couldn't do it. My partner hollered
    > > > at him to sit on his butt and skooch down the
    > > > steps. He said he was not capable of doing it.
    > > > Harry told my partner to go ahead of them.
    > > > Harry had once had a heart attack and was
    > > > worried about this mans heart. It was his
    > > > nature to be this way. He was/is one of the
    > > > kindest people I know. He would not leave a
    > > > man behind. My partner went ahead and made
    > > > it out. He said he was out maybe 10 minutes
    > > > before the building came down. This means
    > > > that Harry had maybe 25 minutes to move
    > > > Victor 36 floors.
    > > >
    > > > I guess they moved 1 floor every 1.5
    > > > minutes. Just a guess. This means Harry wad
    > > > around the 20th floor when the building
    > > > collapsed. As of now 12 of 13 people are
    > > > accounted for. As of 6 PM yesterday (Sept.15)
    > > > his wife had not heard from him. I fear that
    > > > Harry is lost. However, a short while ago I
    > > > heard that he may be alive. Apparently there
    > > > is a web site with survivor names on it and
    > > > his name appears there. Unfortunately,
    > > > Ramos is not an uncommon name in New York.
    > > > Pray for him and all those like him.
    > > >
    > > > With regard to the firemen heading
    > > > upstairs, I realize that they were going up
    > > > anyway. But, it hurts to know that I may have
    > > > made them move quicker to find my friend.
    > > > Rationally, I know this is not true and that I
    > > > am not the responsible one. The responsible
    > > > ones are in hiding somewhere on this planet
    > > > and damn them for making me feel like this.
    > > > But they should know that they failed in
    > > > terrorizing us. We were calm. Those men and
    > > > women that went up were heroes in the face
    > > > of it all. They must have known what was
    > > > going on and they did their jobs. Ordinary
    > > > people were heroes too.
    > > >
    > > > Today the images that people around the
    > > > world equate with power and democracy are
    > > > gone but "America" is not an image it is a
    > > > concept. That concept is only strengthened by
    > > > our pulling together as a team. If you want to
    > > > kill us, leave us alone because we will do it
    > > > by ourselves. If you want to make us
    > > > stronger, attack and we unite. This is the
    > > > ultimate failure of terrorism against The
    > > > United States and the ultimate price we pay
    > > > to be free, to decide where we want to work,
    > > > what we want to eat, and when & where we
    > > > want to go on vacation. The very moment the
    > > > first plane was hijacked, democracy won.
    > >
    >
    >
    >
    >
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   nurs4kids
    Tiger,
    I think this is the most graphic, first handed, touching thing I've read yet. Thank you for sharing this..I can not begin to imagine...I don't want to
  4. by   eventsnyc
    Tigar, Thank you.

    Best wishes, Christina

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