|> > 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 8am. 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 8:30m. We were standing around, joking around,
> > eating breakfast, checking emails, 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 incase.
> > 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 email
> > 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 10am 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. Relieved 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 10:30am. 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 10am 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 lean on them.
> > He said he couldn't do it. My partner hollered at him
> > to sit on his butt and schooch 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 was around the 20th floor when the
> > building collapsed. As of now 12 of 13 people are
> > sccounted for. As of 6pm yesterday 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 regards 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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