What follow is what I wrote late in the day on 9-11 just after I came home. I did not want to talk but I respected peoples desire to know. When God gives you a story I feel compelled to tell. I have not changed a word.
I guess everyone is now saying they had a bad feeling. Who knew it would be this bad. The Monday commute home was not the same. I felt a strong need to be home. The air was thick and the skies signaled a storm that could impose great damage. By the time I came home. The air cleared, my mood had not.
Vicky met me at the door. She asked, what was wrong. She thought it was work related. I just said, I feel like something bad is going to happen. We talked a bit which usually calms me down. But not this time. After dinner she asked if I would like to watch TV. I requested something light. Bedtime came and so did my dreams. I woke up thinking I had been shot. I could go on about the dream, suffice to say I fixed myself up with some cotton, tin foil and duct tape. I guess it is true. Duct tape can be used for just about anything.
Went to work as I have always done. Train to Newark, and Path Train from there, to 1 WTC. Sat at my desk, on the 78th floor. It overlooks midtown Manhattan. Some coworkers, Kash and Matin, came in early; we jointly decided to have breakfast. We went down to the cafeteria on the 44th floor. I just sat down to eat my granola and drink my Diet Pepsi. And then our world changed.
The building started to move and we heard an explosion. It felt like the building was going to topple it moved so much. We all looked at each other trying to think of some explanation. I reacted by grabbing the table we were seated at with both hands. Matin said, “easy big Guy”. I said nothing. It swayed back and forth and then finally came to rest. Once the building stabilized, we looked out the window and saw debris; papers and such begin to fall. We moved to the center of the cafeteria, to keep away from the glass, and wait for some announcement, although none would come. All the drills, all the tests of the system, all the emergency systems failed just when we needed it most. We knew it was bad really bad.
I dropped to my knees and began to pray. I asked God to spare us, guide us and use me in the situation as best as I could. A maintenance worker listening to his radio and just shouted to head down the stairs. Not feeling the need to be told twice, we moved. But where were the stairs? I know why they tell you to look for exits before an accident. They are harder to find in the middle of despair. They were actually right under our noses. My wife would tell you, of course that is where everything I can’t find is.
Kash led the way. It was funny to see him hesitate opening the fire exit only door. The door labeled, “alarm will sound”. I guess it just intimated him or maybe the realization of it all set in. There were people in the stairs already.
Once on the stairs there was a sense of relief. Just doing something made you feel better. The helpless feeling of grabbing a table when a 110 story building feels like it will topple cannot be described. Doing something proactive was good and my nature.
The exit began orderly and ended that way. There was no great sense of panic. Just that we all wanted to get down. We thought it would be safe down there. The woman behind me began to get hysterical. I asked what was wrong. She stated she was claustrophobic. I just started to talk to her telling her we have been spared and need to just get down and out of the building.
Each floor I counted out loud to try and bring comfort to her and myself. Each floor meant we were closer to our rescue. Smoke began filtering into the stairs. They had not shut down the air system yet. The smoke burned our eyes, lips, and mouth. But Thank God we were alive.
Around the 36th floor another woman began to wheeze. I asked her what was wrong she was asthmatic. A man offered her his inhaler, which she used. But continued to struggle. I was now talking with both women trying to keep them calm and engaged so they won’t have time to let their minds work against them.
As I said there was no panic. But there were very nervous people. One-woman kept yelling out “keep it moving”. But as people enter the stairs we had to wait. I guess that is the luxury of being on the lower floors.
Around the 20th floor, we passed a man in a wheel chair. Another man and myself offer to take him down. He said no he would wait. I think he knew he would tie up the stairs. All I could think was what a self-sacrifice.
On the 14th floor we had to stop to allow a fireman to pass as he walked up. It was now about 100 degrees, with stale air. They turn off the vents or they failed but it kept the smoke from getting worse. But here we were, 14 floors to our rescue, and him with 66 + to his destination. He was dress in full gear oxygen tank, hats, and suits and jacket. His face will always remain in my dreams, his family will remain in my prayers. He was the bravest man I ever saw.
Around the 10th floor we passed a small group, one woman was having trouble. I assumed it was breathing difficulties. She had plenty of people with her so there was nothing to do.
On the 6th floor things seemed to worsen. Water was pouring into the staircase. There were little waterfalls off each stair. It made the trip down more cautious. My conversations with these two women continued. I guess in the end keeping them calm kept me calm. Somewhere after the 10th floor there were people trying to listen to the radio. Bits and pieces of what happened were floating up and down the staircase.
When we reached the ground floor and could see outside. We now knew how bad it was. Explosions, fires, and glass were everywhere outside the building. The lobby was a mess but intact, and empty except for a line of people making their way out. A rescue worker stopped me and asked, what floor we were from and what the conditions were. I gave him my report. As we began our journey out things worsened. It is impossible to explain the amount of devastation your eyes can hold. Pictures cannot capture it. It is the smell of smoke, the cries and tears, fire, chaos, and the smell of the death in the air. Here Kash had separated from Matin and me.
We were ushered out by security personnel, through the main lobby, through a water shower from the fire sprinklers. It was refreshing after our long trip down. We made our way into the Trade Center mall. Led down and out toward Broadway. Once we got outside we were told to stay under the overhang, turn off cell phones and don’t look up. So we looked up. My heart sank. I knew I cheated death. I knew I was alive and anyone in our office was not going to be able to survive what I could see from the ground. Right where our offices were there was now a gaping hole where a plane entered the building, fire and smoke were everywhere. You have all seen the pictures by now. Nothing to really add, just my heart felt shock.
A third woman started to scream hysterically and running right towards us. She was reaching out for anyone to catch her. I caught her, and she cried as we continued to walk, I lost track of the other two women I thought they had gone ahead. We made it to Broadway the woman let go and walked away.
On Broadway there was a small church. I had to stop and pray. I got on my knees and thanked Him for sparing me. It was then I got an overwhelming urge to go home. Matin and I kept walking, we knew we had to get to a phone, and I wanted to get out of NYC. The phone line where long, I felt urged to head north up Broadway. Some how the two women from the stairwell found us again and thank me. I just asked them to thank God and go home now.
A cab had just emptied out in front of us we jumped in and we started our journey to Penn Station. The radio was on and all the reports were coming in. I was in a state of shock. It all seemed so unreal and this would be over soon. But things worsen once again. In the safety of our cab now 10 blocks away, the WTC 2 fell. My heart sank, my thoughts were of the fireman we saw in the building and how many were still in the one tower. That urge to get out saved my life again had we stayed; we very well could have been piled under WTC 2.
We got out of the cab my legs finally showed signs of weakness, and sharp pain. I headed into a store, an art gallery I think. I asked to use the phone. I tried to call home but the phone would not connect. I then called the NJ office and asked to speak with James my boss and owner of the company. Told him our brief story and begged him to call home, we found out that everyone from our office was accounted for and safe. Then tried to call home again, this time the phone rang. Vicky answered, said something like “hey” she said “GUY” I simply stated, “Yes, I am alive”. Finally tears fell from my face. After the call we walked over to Penn Station. It was still open.
I got the concourse said goodbye to Matin. Trains were running. Mine was just called.
I quickly got on it, and actually got a seat as the train filled up. Then an announcement came that they were closing the station. Then the conductor asked us to detrain. Being too tired and with nowhere to go I stayed. The train was just about empty when the announcement was made that we could go, the train refilled quickly. Then once again the announcement came to detrain.
I had nowhere to go, little strength to go there. Sitting on this train made more sense, sooner or later it was going to go to NJ. I wanted to make sure I was on it. A few people stayed also. Then with the train less than a third filled, it left, and I was on my way home.
Once at the train station I called Vicky and asked her to pick me up and bring my car keys as mine where left beside my desk. She came we embraced, politely rejected to be interviewed by a local reporter and went home.
People ask me where was God in all this and how could he let it all happen. First off God did not cause this the free will of man did. Second, God was there. I was in there when the plane hit, I heard the metal stretching beyond it capabilities. Who do you think kept those building from falling? I know.
When I knelt and prayed who do think came to calm me? I know. I was in a state of panic before I prayed not after. When I thanked God for sparing me who gave me the urge to go home. The feeling of your not spared yet. God did. When those buildings could no longer stand. Why do you think they fell straight down? I know. With each building that had 20,000 people working, double that reporting to work, and double that again in and around the area it could have been much much worse. If the buildings fell any other way the death toll would be staggering.
I thank God I am alive, I thank God for my life, and I thank God for Jesus Christ my savoir.
For me to recover and regain my life, I know I can only do it with Him, through Him, and in Him.
Author - Guy Yasika
Looking to profess my faith to anyone that will listen.