World Trade Center - Sept. 11, 2001
2 minute version is just below
Quick Overview of Mary & Jim's American Red Cross mission in NYC:
On Sept. 11, Mary and I decided to go to NYC, then I spoke to Rick at the Canton Chapter. He said we could drive the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) the next morning to NYC.
On Interstate 80 going East, people were passing us and waving & cheering encouragement for the Red Cross. We arrived at 7:00 pm on Sept 12th at the Red Cross Chapter House in NYC. Thursday morning at 6:00 we picked up snacks & water to deliver to whoever needed it near the World Trade Center (WTC). A local volunteer was our navigator. She led us to about 200 yards north-west of the WTC. The 3 of us gave water & fresh apples to the rescue workers and the firemen for 2 hours until we saw men running our way screaming "GO" "GO". We ran about 200 yards farther away from the WTC. We waited an hour, went back in and got our ERV out, we were too close to the WTC. Apparently a small section of the a building had fallen. We then approached the WTC from the east and were just setting up to feed about 20 National Guard & Police when we heard men running and yelling "GO" again. This time we ran east about 300 yards to Water street. Later, we approached the WTC from the south and ran upon about 100 rescue workers laying in a park with no refreshments. These men were extremely thirsty and also needed the powerbars and fruit we had on board so they could go back in and work. It was the most worthy feeding we have ever done in our career with the Red Cross and all we had was room-temperature water and lots and lots of snacks.
The next day, we set up a snack and drink station in Primary School (PS234) to augment the food that was being brought in by restaurants and local people. One of the Local Disaster Volunteers had been appointed to keep an inventory of dust masks, respirators, helmets, boots, blankets, gloves, sterile suits and many other goods the rescue workers would need to sift thru the rubble. I was impressed by the readiness of NYC, they had emergency goods stored below city hall. The rescue workers would run by a table, grab what they needed and run to the WTC to dig, and this was 3 days after the disaster. There was a table with first aid supplies and there was almost always 2 or 3 people getting help of some type (many blisters on feet). When we arrived, the area was a mess with litter and 1/4 inch of WTC dust on everything. I asked about 5 volunteers in the area to clean up and 3 hours later we could see the road under us for the first time since the disaster. The gymnasium in PS234 was used as a Triage (a medical receiving area to classify the needs of injured). Each class room in the school had 4 or 5 bunks set up in them. The firemen & the rescue workers would eat & sleep and go back to work as soon as they were able. The cafeteria only had 10 tables set up upon which the men could eat. We asked the school custodians to set up 20 additional tables and this gave the Red Cross the ability to set up a hot meal feeding station with the ability to serve 1,500 meals in a 4 hour period.
On day 6, Monday, we brought our first 200 hot meals to PS234, it was Corned-beef hash, greenbeans and potatoes, and cold pears. Many of the diggers & firemen had been eating the free McDonalds food. McDonalds had set up a portable restaurant in the street and the rescue workers had been eating there for 4 days straight and were ready for some home cooking. Our food was prepared by Kitchen 2, a group of 60 people from the Tennessee Baptist Convention. At peak, the Kitchen 2 Baptists were cooking 6,000 meals per meal, 3 meals a day and supplying 11 ERVs with a smile and a Christian wave as we departed with the food. After about 5 days, PS234 needed 1,250 hot meals per meal and the men were very appreciative. All day, we offered 5 tables of snacks and 5 coolers of beverage, plus 500 cups of coffee from the kitchen or Starbucks. Starbucks generously gave the Red Cross thousands and thousands of dollars of coffee, they were great.
The Red Cross could not have fed the 1,250 meals without the help of many, many Local Disaster Volunteers. We made friends that we will never forget and I don't think they will ever forget us.
On Sept. 25th, the Red Cross set up a Respite center 200 yards from us which enabled us to close our cafeteria on Sept. 29th, the school needed to reopen as a school. Part of the Red Cross's goal is to get the local economy back on its feet, therefore the Respite center fed contract food from the local restaurants of NYC. This move shut down Kitchens 1, 2, & 3 and they consolidated to Kitchen 4 located 20 miles south by JFK International.
Each night, we stayed in a nice hotel just north of Times Square. We got up at 4:00am to get to work by 5:00 every day, then we would work a 12 hour day and spend another hour getting home. We looked forward to a good dinner in a restaurant of our choice. Emotionally, we both had a hard time and I know I could not have made it past day 6 without Mary's emotional support.
On October 1, we outprocessed with the Red Cross and my brother picked us up at Red Cross Disaster Headquarters in Brooklyn. We took them to an Eastern Indian restaurant just north of the fence at ground zero. They were able to photograph the school and also shot a few pixtures of the WTC wreckage.
Thank God there was no more damage than there was. Pray for the 6,000 people and their families whose lives are forever changed due to this horrible act of man.
The Red Cross has 41 man-hours donated for every paid hour of a
Red Cross full time employee.
Disclaimer: This is my private web site, not an American Red Cross site.