An image which cannot be forgotten
Stabroek News
September 14, 2001

Dear Editor,

I was just reading the account by Mr Aftab Karimullah describing his experience in Lower Manhattan (SN, l2.9.200l). I had a different one, much earlier. I had just exited the subway on Church street which is approximately a five-minute walk from the World Trade Center complex when I heard a tremendously loud noise which sounded like a rocket of some sort. Everyone just stopped in their tracks and were just looking around and upward saying, "What the heck was that?"

Then we all heard this loud explosion a few seconds later, which was followed by people starting to run back up the street. At first no one knew what was happening, then someone running by was screaming, "They just bombed the Trade Center again!" At that point my blood ran cold, but from my position on the sidewalk, I was unable to see anything. However, when I looked up the street towards the direction of the complex, I saw a huge amount of debris, glass, papers and smoke just drifting down into the street. I then crossed the street along with other people, drawn to the source of this destruction. When I was able to see the building, words cannot describe the sight that awaited me - a gaping hole on the northern side of the Tower One, with flames and thick black smoke emanating from the damaged site. My first thought was to attempt to call my office which is (was) situated on the 36th floor of Tower Two. I was unable to get through, cell phone service was impossible. Everyone was in shock, people were screaming and crying, men and women alike. People were saying that it wasn't a bomb but a plane which had crashed into the building. People were mesmerised by this impossible sight. I then proceeded onto a side street to try to escape the noise from emergency vehicles which were racing towards the scene, sirens and lights blazing. I even went into a small building in an attempt to use my cell phone, but again to no avail. I then returned to the street and joined other shocked people just staring at this incredible scene. Then the most horrifying thing was witnessed - a body plummeted from the upper floors of the burning building, maybe 80 storeys up, I could not believe it, I just continued to be mesmerized. Then a few minutes later, another body went flying down, at which point I could not take it any more and I turned to leave. I had in mind to walk over the Brooklyn bridge to downtown Brooklyn; no sooner than I started to do so, we all heard the second noise of the second plane approaching, at which point people, including myself, just started running for their lives. When I looked up at the building again and saw that it was Tower Two that had been hit this time, I became completely hysterical, thinking I could have been in that building. I made it to the bridge and started across along with lots of other people. We were all shaken, dazed and shocked. People were crying openly. During my walk across the bridge, I turned around several times to take in the unbelievable sight of the burning buildings. Then I could look no more. That image will remain burned in my mind forever.

Yours faithfully,

Valerie Wheeler

St Joseph's High Class of 1979