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Time has passed but the wounds remain for the survivors of September 11 and the New Yorkers who were profoundly affected by the attacks. "Tower Stories" examines the harrowing, emotional tales of New Yorkers who were inside the towers and those who responded to the physical and emotional needs of the city in the aftermath. The stories are based on interviews from "Tower Stories," an independent project showcasing the first-hand accounts of those directly and indirectly affected by the terrorist attacks.
photo Steve Alonso 33 Brooklyn, New York
A detective with a Staten Island narcotics unit, Alonso raced to his station and then to the World Trade Center on September 11, spending the next several months sifting through concrete, steel, office and human debris at Ground Zero and then at Fresh Kills landfill. More »
"I found a lot of body parts. I felt I was the last to interact with this person, putting an end to their horror."

-- Alonso on sifting through the World Trade Center rubble
photo Arlene Charles 46 Brooklyn, New York
Charles was working as an elevator starter on the North Tower's 78th floor when American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the building. She and a badly burned friend escaped from the tower, with Charles eventually walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and back home. More »
"She was literally on fire. Her face was all red. Her fingers peeled back. No skin left."

-- Charles on her friend Carmen Griffith's condition minutes after the jet hit the North Tower
photo Florence Engoran 36 Huntington, New York
Florence Engoran stepped off the elevator on the South Tower's 55th floor, looked outside and saw huge chunks of concrete and flaming debris falling from the North Tower. Five months pregnant, she instinctively bolted toward the stairway. More »
"Why should I not have a child? Why let horrible people fill the world? Fill the world with good people. It's important."

-- Engoran on having a baby after September 11
photo Nick Gerstle 25 Staten Island, New York
Gerstle and several Marines were the first to spot and begin digging for two Port Authority police officers buried under 15 feet of debris, and Gerstle later spent weeks near the site repairing broken cable and telephone lines. More »
"What I took away from this experience is, 'Do whatever you can do to help.' Just go."

-- Gerstle on his impulsive decision to go to Ground Zero
photo Jonathan Judd 38 Manhattan, New York
Shortly before 9 a.m. on September 11, Judd boarded an elevator on the North Tower's 78th floor to take him to his 85th floor office. When the elevator door opened on the 83rd floor, Judd saw the elevator doors across from him explode, moments after the American Airlines jet hit the building. More »
"People started to stampede, like a Godzilla movie, running uptown. It looked like 'Night of the Living Dead,' zombies walking uptown all in shock."

-- Judd on the collapse of the towers
photo Jerry Scarnato   Brooklyn, New York
A New York City firefighter, Scarnato survived the eventual collapse of both towers, walking away with only minor injuries. He spent the rest of September 11 and much of the next several weeks on "The Pile," searching for his lost friends and colleagues. More »
"You're not a hero when you're watching people jumping from 80, 90 or whatever floors out of the building to their certain death, and you're thinking about going in. It takes the heart out of you."

-- Scarnato
photo Roger Smyth 36 Brooklyn, New York
On September 11 -- what should have been his day off -- Smyth rushed to his hospital a few blocks from the World Trade Center. He saw the South Tower fall from his ambulance and barely escaped the North Tower's collapse. More »
"Things [were] strewn everywhere ... bodies [were] falling out of the sky, people scattering in every direction, emergency workers trying to get people out."

-- Smyth on arriving at the World Trade Center
photo Patrick Weir 30 Manhattan, New York
Like many, Weir's life temporarily halted on September 11, even if he was several miles from Ground Zero. Weir joined his fellow members of the Big Apple Chorus in singing patriotic tunes to mourners, firemen and everyday New Yorkers as a way of soothing others' grief -- and their own. More »
"The whole tragedy changed the meaning of that song. We had all been feeling so bad, everyone. It was a surprise to us, to them, and it was good to feel hope."

-- Weir on singing the Frank Sinatra classic "New York, New York"
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