Below is the account of Denise M. of her experiences in Manhattan on the day of the 9/11 terror attacks. I broke it into paragraphs, but her words are otherwise unedited. It is taken from September 11 Digital Archive.
I worked directly across the street of the Trade Center in the World Financial Center for 5 years. I had been on the express bus, coming out of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel when the first plane hit. We heard the dispatcher tell the bus driver that a plane hit into the WTC and it seemed to be an accident. After hearing that, we all started to make our way off the bus and on to our jobs.
I was walking towards my building, standing directly across the street (on Liberty St) when I was stopped by a police officer. He told me not to go any further because there had been airplane parts all over the street and it was dangerous. So I stayed there just watching the 1st tower burn. I could see all the fireman & police officers getting people out of the building. The people were running, some were injured & burnt. It was so horrific to see this.
After 10 mins of watching, I heard a loud sound as if something were falling from the sky. When I looked up, all I could see was this huge plane right over head flying 100's of miles an hour directly into the 2nd tower. That's when I realized it was not an accident, we were being attached. I could hear the sound of that plane going into the building making a huge suction sound then exploding into peices all over the area.
From that point I ducked so I wouldn't be hit. I know at that point I was not thinking about saving myself or heading somewhere for safty, I was knumb and couldn't move. My whole body was in a state of shock. Here were these two huge buildings that I've associated all my life with home and they were on fire.
From where I was standing I could hear these banging sounds that sounded that little bombs exploding, days later I realized it was the sound of bodies falling from the windows hitting the ground.
Still standing in ora after mins that seemed to be as long as hours, a panic came over everyone around me and that's when I could hear the police officers screaming run the building is collapsing. Well I never ran so fast in my life. I ran towards the water thinking that if one building was falling the others where going to be right behind it sort of like a domino effect. If there was anywhere left to go it was going to be in the Hudson River.
At the time I was running, I turned around to see what was going on behind me and it looked like a scene right out of the movies. This huge gray cloud that looked solid like a marshmello was right behind me and it was coming quick. I got as far as I could go, covering my face with a ripped towel that I fellow next to me handed me. When I was finally able to squint my eyes open, I couldn't even see 10 feet in front. Everyone around me was covered in dust, as was I. It wasn't just dust, it was a pinchy fiberglass feeling that was over your skin. Immediately I got it in my eyes and had to remove my contacts because they were burning me.
The air was starting to clear when I was able to find my cell phone and call home. Not knowing that no ones phones were working, I tried to call out and nothing was happening. I remember thinking two things, this was the end of the world and I was going to die on this day, and my mom & fiance was probably watching this on CNN not knowing where I was because they hadn't heard from me.
Looking for anyway out of the city, I went towards the Staten Island Ferry and just as the ferry was docking in the pier, tower 2 was collapsing and the dust was getting thick again. As I boarded the ferry, the deckhands were handing out life jackets so I grab one and made my way on too the ferry. It took us about 5/10 mins. to get out into the water because the harbor was not clear enough to depart.
When we were finally out by the Statue of Liberty, there was a sign a relief in me but I still didn't feel safe until I was home. When I finally reached my house, I remember running in and my mom was standing at the top of the steps in tears. We both huged each other as tight as possible and cried. At that moment I thought to myself, how glad I was to be alive & able to come home to my family.
There was a lot of tears from that day forward, watching TV, going to funnerals, even the day I had to head back into the city for the first time after 9/11. Things will never be the same here in NYC but we've all gained the strenght to go on with our lives and I know that no one will ever forget that day or those people who lost their innocent lives just trying to make a days pay. And for the heros who were trying to save the people, they've gained more than just respect from me...