It was 10 a.m. on a weekday morning, but something was dramatically different. You only had to walk a few steps from where you were to realize something serious was happening in New York.

I worked in the political unit at NY1 News during the summer and before I left for Georgetown, I planned to return home to New York on Sept. 8 to help with election coverage in New York, up to and including primary day.

I woke up late Tuesday morning. I was supposed to report to the NY1 newsroom at 3 p.m. for primary day and was assigned to be at ark Green’s, a Democrat candidate for mayor, headquarters. However, there would not even be a primary that day and I ended up covering one of the most heinous events in world history.

I was awoken by the sound of my mom on my answering machine, telling me to wake up because she had seen a plane crash through one of the World Trade Center towers.

I turned on the television to see a sight I never could have imagined.

I picked up the phone to call my sister and she turned on her television and we were silent for several minutes, both of us stunned. She told me she was coming over and I was relieved, because I needed someone else to see it with me to believe it.

I listened to a series of phoned-in reports on NY1 from several reporters I knew. Hearing their description was disturbing, but the personal connection I had with them was also difficult as I listened and feared for their safety.

A half hour later I began the trek to work. As I walked down Third Avenue hundreds of people rushed in the other direction, people in work attire, heading home after being evacuated from their office buildings. Traffic was snarled and the subways were out of commission. I had never seen New York in a full state of panic, and this was only the beginning of two days full of memories that will never leave me.

People flooded the sidewalks in such numbers that it almost resembled the scene after a concert or a sporting event, but something was noticeably different. The tone and expression on people’s faces was one of dismay, sadness and plain disbelief. Many of those same people had a look of frustration across their faces because people could not get through on the phone to their loved ones.

I tried to call several friends but was unable to get through. I went through a list in my head of all the people I knew who might have been there or nearby. My first thought was of one friend who I knew worked directly across the street from the towers. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the fact I couldn’t reach him by phone only made it worse. I worried and imagined the worst, his death, and asked myself why I hadn’t talked to him recently.

Finally I got to NY1 on 42nd Street. Everyone was running around the office and the phones were ringing off the hook. I quickly sat down at the news desk and started picking up calls. Every reporter was either answering calls or out on assignment, trying to uncover what had happened. Calls from people around the city were pouring in from people who had loved ones missing, the reporters who were updating us on what was happening in the field, and family members of employees in the field, concerned for their well- being.

A few hours later a producer came by and said, “Jean, you ready?” and in minutes we were out the door. I asked where we going, and he told me we were headed to a Muslim community in Brooklyn to get reaction from them. We drove through the streets, barely any cars in sight. The situation was very eerie; our car was the only one on the FDR Drive. Nobody was around.

When we reached Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, we found the entire throughway was closed off to traffic. Police officers and personnel from the National Guard stood around deflecting traffic away from the area. We shot some video of the emptiness, trying to capture the feeling we experienced – that we were in a ghost town.

New York City was mute, the only sounds we heard were ambulances, and fire trucks heading downtown. The smell of smoke wafted through the air and blackness loomed ahead of us. Muslim citizens we approached were very defensive and some pushed us and refused to answer our questions. Though we simply asked how the uslims felt, several people responded angrily, claiming that they didn’t know about what happened and that they were not involved. A woman expressed concern for her children growing up in the city because she thought they might be the subjects of unfounded prejudice and anger. This was a struggle I’ve never had to confront and had never really been faced with unil Tuesday.

Without warning, gigantic cranes and trucks began to filter down Atlantic Avenue. I was scared, because I knew they were to be used in the excavating process. The thought alone was gruesome, and the degree of destruction that had occurred was only about to set in.

The following day I was sent to Chelsea Piers with a cameraman and a reporter. The Sky Rink was to be used as a triage center for rescue workers to convene and get things like bread, water and clean clothes. The image of nearly a dozen military tanks driving out of Chelsea Piers is one I cannot erase from my mind. I had seen tanks like those on television, but I had never seem them drive right in front of my eyes. The tanks in combination with the sounds of sirens and fighter jets overhead were frightening, and made me feel as though I lost my sense of security in my home and favorite city in the world, New York.

The most heart-wrenching experience of the day, though, was talking to a young man whose girlfriend was the executive pastry chef at Windows on the World, on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center. He only had a picture and an image in his memory. We shot video of the photo and later put it on the air. I still don’t know if he ever found his girlfriend. Chills ran down my spine and I nearly cried as he told us his story and showed us a picture of her.

Several people also approached our news van with photographs of missing family, asking us to help spread the word. The truck operator taped the photos to the van, trying to help in any way he could. I returned home later that day and a rushing feeling of sadness overcame me as I watched more coverage of the event on NY1. I started sobbing and finally realized the depth of what had happened and the reality that nothing could ever undo the harm that had been caused by that day’s events.

The world I left and the world I came back to – both of the places I consider home – will never be the same. I will never again come over the Triboro Bridge into Manhattan and see those two towers. Our skyline is forever changed, and all we have left is a memory of what it once looked like. That vision will forever remind the world of the innocent lives lost and the people directly and indirectly affected by Tuesday’s horrific tragedy.

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