Maria - New Jersey

Below is the text of an email I sent to someone on September 16.

I work in the Lincoln Harbor Marina in Weehawken, NJ, which is just outside the Lincoln Tunnel. It is located right on the Hudson River just about directly across 30th street of NYC. I work for a lunch and dinner cruise company with a large luxury yacht that can hold btwn 600 to 700 people.
On Tuesday morning my husband (who works part time at the same company) and I were driving into work. We were looking forward to the evening, after work we were going into NYC to the Meow Mix for their famous Xena Night. When we made a turn to go downhill to approach the waterfront, it was about 8:48 am. I saw this huge plume of smoke coming out of the North Tower of the WTC. My husband quickly turned on the radio and we heard reports of a plane crashing into the tower. As most assumed at that time, that this was an accident, that some commuter plane must have had a mechanical malfunction and crashed into the building.

As we drove onto the dock parking lot, we momentarily lost our view of the Towers. Then as we parked, it was just after 9:00 am and the radio announced that the South Tower was on fire. We thought that somehow the fire from one had caused an explosion that had hit the other Tower. We ran into our office, turned on the radio and ran to the window. We were watching an unbelievable sight. Then the DJ's who had now become news reporters said that it was a second plane that had hit the South Tower, that this just could not be another accident. Another coworker came in from the waterfront and said he saw the second plane hit.

We heard that our head chef had called in on his cell phone a few minutes before and said he'd be late for work, that there was all this debris and he didn't know what was happening. We tried calling him back, but cell phones weren't working. We watched in horror as first one then the other tower collapsed. My husband held me as we both cried. Our sister company with 4 ships in its fleet was located down the street from the WTC. We did get a phone call that all in there were getting away. But the head chef's fiancee who works there was frantic, she wanted to know what happened to him. The we heard about the attack on the Pentagon, our country was being attacked. The dockmaster informed us that ships were evacuating people to our pier. One of our sales reps called a local bus line and asked them to send their fleet to the marina, she then called the Weehawken police to inform them to let the buses thru.

We were waiting for the captain of our ship to arrive, he was probably stuck in traffic. We started to prepare our ship to go. Other ships were docking and letting hundreds off at our dock. Our company president got a captain of a small yacht and asked him to take our ship over. Some of the office staff went along as crew. I went out on the dock and directed the people to the parking lot where the buses were waiting there to take them to the Meadowlands. Our captain finally arrived, he was brought over to NYC in a small motor boat to get to his ship.

We finally got a phone call from our head chef, he was safe and had been able to turn around and return home. His fiancee who had evacuated to our office in one of their yachts was relieved at the news. Another worker from our sister company arrived, she was covered in debris, she was outside for a smoke when it all happened. She called her husband to tell him she was OK, but their nephew worked on the 104th floor. We found out the next day that he didn't make it.

I called my next door neighbor who worked in NYC, she was OK, but didn't know where to go to get evacuated. I told her to get down to Pier 63, that our ship and many other ships were there getting people out. Dazed people walked into our office, to use our bathrooms, to use our phones. I saw thousands coming off the ships, boats, tug boats. Our dock was the closest that could accommodate the large river tour ships. My neighbor finally arrived from NYC and came into our office, it was now 6:00 pm. We left work then taking our neighbor with us. Our ship was continuing to make runs back and forth. As we drove out, we saw lines of people waiting to get on buses, police were everywhere, access into the area was cutoff. We drove past the access to the Lincoln Tunnel and saw police blocking that off also. We got home, assured friends we were OK, had dinner, then sat there numb, looking at the TV. Yes, we are physically undamaged, but psychologically we are hurt.

My office has a fantastic view of the NYC skyline. I used to enjoy looking out our window. There is now a scar in that skyline. It is now September 16, the smoke plume still rises.