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Lost and weak, I called, “Help, help”.  Again, “Help. Help.”  Each call meant a deep breath and each breath meant filling my lungs with ash and soot.  Standing still to listen carefully, “Help. Help.”  We heard a voice, "Over here."  We walked a few steps.  I called "Help." And there followed the same voice "Over here".  Again and again, as we walked to the voice.  We passed a large, tall double glass doorway where we were sucked in by the shadows of a human chain, walking single file, holding hands. We marched aside the line and inside a lobby through the doorway.  The building’s security guards guided is to the rear of the foyer.  We were asked to sit in a small lobby by the elevators that were twenty feet behind us or to move downstairs where water and restrooms were available. There was one EMT that generously offered his skills to every one of the 200 hundred or so in the upper lobby.  He was working over a man who had suffered a heart attack.  I walked by.  Here we learned that the Towers fell and that the Empire State and UN were standing.  We descended the stairs to the subbasement.  The air was breathable and, compared to the outside, had a lot less soot.  Someone nearby was having chest pains; a few had allergy attacks, there were asthma seizures and a couple of others were either in the process of passing out or coming to.  The general population turned its stilted discussion to the NYFD, namely when will be rescued.  Scott and I had seen probably more that most who were cooped up down there.  We stood through two suicide plane crashes, the arduous walk away, the trek to the subway, the hour and a half we spent in the tunnel, a period of time on the street lost in the billowing yellow ash cloud; now here. I didn’t remember the NYFD to be nearby.  We knew the NYFD had extraordinarily priorities and that the 1,000 or so people we were huddled with in this comparatively safe subbasement, couldn’t, we thought, be anywhere approaching even the lowest rung of a priority list.  I walked up the stairs and looked out the twenty-foot high glass doors, it was very dark and the air was very thick.  I looked up and down the block, nothing there.   A line of police cars, motors choked off by the lack of air, were idle.  Ambulances were parked and soot covered everything.  A fire truck was abandoned.  I walked back downstairs.


There were probably more that 250 buildings in the immediate area of the World Trade complex, I guessed.  The buildings’ sizes, the manpower needed, the logistics to get to the buildings, enter each, search them thoroughly and to evacuate the people hidden within them would be a monumental task.  I had no expectations about a timetable for our evacuation from our latest hell hole.


Scott and I couldn’t stay in this building for more than about 30 minutes.  I think, exacerbated the problem.  Getting claustrophobic, I began wheezing because of the ash, I could feel myself beginning to hyperventilate.  Something just wasn’t right, the smell, the air, and soot; there was something wrong with us being there, I began to sweat and I told Scott I had to leave.  He did too.  We moved upstairs.  I asked a guard to let us leave by the door thru which we entered, but he explained “No, first, too much ash would come.  Then, others people might want to go out too which would keep the door open much too long.  It’s better we wait here for the fire department,” he regretted.  We needed another exit.  We walked around the ground floor until we found a normal sized door facing direction 180 degrees from the main entrance.




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