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I had been living in Manhattan for three weeks starting my first year of college. 114th St on the upper west side, the school's location chosen for the highest elevation in Manhattan. We could see the entire city.

The security guard in my building must have thought that I was completely heartless. He asked me if I had heard that two planes had crashed into the towers, and I didn't react at all. I thought planes had radar to prevent accidents like that. I went up to my room on the 14th floor, and got ready for work and class. While I was in the shower, my floor mates were watching the towers collapse from their vantage point at the window of our hallway. I didn't realize something was wrong until I saw the TV on in the lounge showing footage of what happened. By the time I looked for the World Trade Towers, they were a cloud of dust.

That day was mass confusion. We were on an island that is considered one of the centers of human civilization, but for that day, we were completely isolated from the rest of the world. There was mass confusion, people wandered absently to class and were told to go home. Everyone was trying to call someone, students trying to contact parents who were working in the towers and trying to let people know that we were all right. People trying to track down friends and relatives and all their loved ones to find out who was safe and who wasn't. There were rumors spreading that there were more targets and more planes coming. Manhattan was under siege, all telephone and cellular networks were down, all bridges, tunnels, and transportation to or from the city stopped. People who had heard the terrorists' flying the planes over the Hudson that morning (two blocks away) jumped at every low-flying air force jet patrolling the city.

My friends and I tried to donate blood. We didn't know what to do, and felt a need to do something to help. Everyone in the city was trying to donate blood, and the hospitals couldn't handle the overload. They were only accepting donations from people with non-risk type O blood, and thousands of potential donors were being turned away. Blood donations weren't going to help most of the victims. There was nothing for us to do but sit and wait for news and for contact with the outside world to be restored.

Classes resumed the next day during talk about restoring routine and order. Things gradually calmed down, and the city began to accept the devastation. People were going out of their way to help each other, a trait one expects to find in the small towns at home, but not in the city. Everything changed that day, when both the best and worst traits of humanity came into play. So many lives revolved around the towers. Many of the ones who survived still had to struggle to keep the will to live. Other survivors had to mourn the loss of their loved ones. Families being provided for by workers in the towers were left devastated and helpless. The city learned it had to lean on others for support, and found the support it needed. We love NY more than ever.


Jessica Plowright, age 18

 

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