Date: Sat, Sep 15, 2001, 9:58pm Subject:
INCREDIBLE STORY
You get an idea of what they went through



THE PRICE WE PAY:
My name is Adam Mayblum. I am alive
today. I am committing this to "paper" so I
never forget. SO WE NEVER FORGET. I
am sure that this is one of thousands of
stories that will emerge over the next
several days and weeks.

I arrived as usual a little before 8am.
My office was on the 87th floor of 1
World Trade Center, AKA: Tower 1, AKA:
the North Tower. Most of my associates
were in by 8:30m. We were standing
around, joking around, eating breakfast,
checking emails, and getting set for
the day when the first plane hit just
a few stories above us. I must stress
that we did not know that it was a
plane. The building lurched violently
and shook as if it were an earthquake.

People screamed. I watched out my
window as the building seemed to move
10 to 20 feet in each direction. It
rumbled and shook long enough for me
to get my wits about myself and grab
a co-worker and seek shelter under a
doorway. Light fixtures and parts of
the ceiling collapsed. The kitchen was
destroyed. We were certain that it was
a bomb. We looked out the windows.
Reams of paper were flying everywhere,
like a ticker tape parade. I looked
down at the street. I could see people
in Battery Park City looking up. Smoke
started billowing in through the holes
in the ceiling. I believe that there
were 13 of us.  

We did not panic. I can only assume
that we thought that the worst was over.
The building was standing and we were
shaken but alive. We checked the halls.
The smoke was thick and white and did
not smell like I imagined smoke should
smell. Not like your BBQ or your fire -
place or even a bonfire.

The phones were working. My wife had
taken our 9 month old for his check up.
I called my nanny at home and told her
to page my wife, tell her that a bomb
went off, I was ok, and on my way out.
I grabbed my laptop. Took off my tee
shirt and ripped it into 3 pieces.
Soaked it in water. Gave 2 pieces to my
friends. Tied my piece around my face
to act as an air filter. And we all
started moving to the staircase. One of
my dearest friends said that he was
staying until the police or firemen
came to get him.

In the halls there were tiny fires and
sparks. The ceiling had collapsed in
the men's bathroom.

It was gone along with anyone who may
have been in there. We did not go in
to look. We missed the staircase on
the first run and had to double back.
Once in the staircase we picked up fire
extinguishers just in case.

On the 85th floor a brave associate of
mine and I headed back up to our office
to drag out my partner who stayed
behind. There was no air, just white
smoke. We made the rounds through the
office calling his name. No response.
He must have succumbed to the smoke.
We left defeated in our efforts and
made our way back to the stairwell.
We proceeded to the 78th floor where
we had to change over to a different
stairwell. 78 is the main junction to
switch to the upper floors. I expected
to see more people.

There were some 50 to 60 more. Not
enough. Wires and fires all over the
place. Smoke too. A brave man was
fighting a fire with the emergency hose.
I stopped with to friends to make sure
that everyone from our office was
accounted for. We ushered them and
confused people into the stairwell.

In retrospect, I recall seeing Harry,
my head trader, doing the same several
yards behind me. I am only 35. I have
known him for over 14 years. I headed
into the stairwell with 2 friends. We
were moving down very orderly in Stair
Case A. veryslowly. No panic. At least
not overt panic. My legs could not stop
shaking. My heart was pounding. Some
nervous jokes and laughter. I made a
crack about ruining a brand new pair
of Merrells. Even still, they were right,
my feet felt great. We all laughed. We
checked our cell phones. Surprisingly,
there was a very good signal, but the
Sprint network was jammed. I heard that
the Blackberry 2 way email devices
worked perfectly. On the phones, 1 out
of 20 dial attempts got through. I knew
I could not reach my wife so I called my
parents. I told them what happened and
that we were all okay and on the way down.
Soon, my sister in law reached me. I told
her we were fine and moving down. I
believe that was about the 65th floor. We
were bored and nervous. I called my
friend Angel in San Francisco. I knew he
would be watching. He was amazed I was
on the phone. He told me to get out that
there was another plane on its way. I
did not know what he was talking about.

By now the second plane had struck
Tower 2. We were so deep into the
middle of our building that we did not
hear or feel anything. We had no idea
what was really going on. We kept
making way for wounded to go down
ahead of us. Not many of them, just
a few. No one seemed seriously wounded.
Just some cuts and scrapes. Everyone
cooperated. Everyone was a hero
yesterday. No questions asked. I had
co-workers in another office on the
77th floor. I tried dozens of times
to get them on their cell phones or
office lines. It was futile. Later I
found that they were alive. One of
the many miracles on a day of tragedy.

 On the 53rd floor we came across a
very heavy set mansitting on the stairs.
I asked if he needed help or was he
just resting. He needed help. I knew I
would have trouble carrying him because
I have a very bad back. But my friend
and I offered anyway. We told him he
could lean on us. He hesitated, I don't
know why. I said do you want to come
or do you want us to send help for you.
He chose for help. I told him he was
on the 53rd floor in Stairwell A and
that's what I would tell the rescue
workers. He said okay and we left.

On the 44th floor my phone rang again.
It was my parents. They were hysterical.
I said relax, I'm fine. My father said
get out, there is third plane coming.
I still did not understand. I was kind
of angry. What did my parents think?
Like I needed some other reason to get
going? I couldn't move the thousand
people in front of me any faster. I
know they love me, but no one inside
understood what the situation really was.

My parents did. Starting around this
floor the firemen, policemen, WTC K-9
units without the dogs, anyone with a
badge, started coming up as we were
heading down. I stopped a lot of them
and told them about the man on 53 and
my friend on 87. I later felt terrible
about this. They headed up to find
those people and met death instead.

On the 33rd floor I spoke with a man
who somehow new mostof the details. He
said 2 small planes hit the building.
Now we all started talking about which
terrorist group it was. Was it an internal
organization or an external one? The
overwhelming but uninformed opinion was
Islamic Fanatics.

Regardless, we now knew that it was not
a bomb and there were potentially more
planes coming. We understood. On the 3rd
floor the lights went out and we heard &
felt this rumbling coming towards us from
above. I thought the staircase was
collapsing upon itself. It was 10am now
and that was Tower 2 collapsing next door.
We did not know that.

Someone had a flashlight. We passed it
forward and left the stairwell and headed
down a dark and cramped corridor to an exit.
We could not see at all. I recommended
that everyone place a hand on the shoulder
of the person in front of them and call
out if they hit an obstacle so others would
know to avoid it. They did. It worked
perfectly. We reached another stairwell and
saw a female officer emerge soaking wet and
covered in soot. She said we could not go
that way it was blocked. Go up to 4 and use
the other exit. Just as we started up she
said it was ok to go down instead.

There was water everywhere. I called out
for hands on shoulders again and she said
that was a great idea. She stayed behind
instructing people to do that. I do not
know what happened to her. We emerged
into an enormous room. It was light but
filled with smoke. I commented to a friend
that it must be under construction. Then
we realized where we were. It was the
second floor. The one that overlooks the
lobby. We were ushered out into the
courtyard, the one where the fountain
used to be.

My first thought was of a TV movie I saw
once about nuclear winter and fallout. I
could not understand where all of the
debris came from. There was at least five
inches of this gray pasty dusty drywall
soot on the ground as well as a thickness
of it in the air. Twisted steel and wires.
I heard there were bodies and body parts
as well, but I did not look. It was bad
enough.

We hid under the remaining overhangs and
moved out to the street. We were told to
keep walking towards Houston Street. The
odd thing is that there were very few
rescue workers around. Less than five.
They all must have been trapped under
the debris when Tower 2 fell. We did not
know that and could not understand where
all of that debris came from. It was just
my friend Kern and I now. We were hugging
but sad. We felt certain that most of our
friends ahead of us died and we knew no
one behind us.

  We came upon a post office several blocks
away. We stopped and looked up. Our
building, exactly where our office is
(was), was engulfed in flame and smoke.
A postal worker said that Tower 2 had
fallen down. I looked again and sure
enough it was gone. My heart was racing.
We kept trying to call our families. I
could not get in touch with my wife.
Finally I got through to my parents.
Relived is not the word to explain their
feelings.

They got through to my wife, thank God
and let her know I was alive. We sat down.
A girl on a bike offered us some water.
Just as she took the cap off her bottle
we heard a rumble. We looked up and our
building, Tower 1 collapsed. I did not
note the time but I am told it was
10:30 am. We had been out less than
15 minutes.

We were mourning our lost friends,
particularly the one who stayed in the
office as we were now sure that he had
perished. We started walking towards
Union Square. I was going to Beth
Israel Medical Center to be looked at.
We stopped to hear the President
speaking on the radio. My phone rang.
It was my wife. I think I fell to my
knees crying when I heard her voice.
Then she told me the most incredible
thing. My partner who had stayed behind
called her. He was alive and well. I
guess we just lost him in the commotion.

We started jumping and hugging and
shouting. I told my wife that my
brother had arranged for a hotel in
midtown. He can be very resourceful in
that way. I told her I would call her
from there. My brother and I managed to
get a gypsy cab to take us home to
Westchester instead. I cried on my son
and held my wife until I fell asleep.  
As it turns out my partner, the one
who I thought had stayed behind was
behind us with Harry Ramos, our head
trader. This is now second hand
information. They came upon Victor,
the heavyset man on the 53rd floor.
They helped him. He could barely move.
My partner bravely/stupidly tested the
elevator on the 52nd floor. He rode it
down to the sky lobby on 44. The doors
opened, it was fine. He rode it back up
and got Harry and Victor.

I don't yet know if anyone else joined
them. Once on 44 they made their way
back into the stairwell. Someplace around
the 39th to 36th floors they felt the
same rumble I felt on the 3rd floor. It
was 10am and Tower 2 was coming down.

They had about 30 minutes to get out.
Victor said he could no longer move.
They offered to have him lead on them.
He said he couldn't do it. My partner
hollered at him to sit on his butt and
schooch down the steps.

He said he was not capable of doing it.
Harry told my partner to go ahead of them.

Harry had once had a heart attack and
was worried about this mans heart. It was
his nature to be this way. He was/is one
of the kindest people I know. He would
not leave a man behind.

My partner went ahead and made it out.
He said he was out maybe 10 minutes
before the building came down. This
means that Harry had maybe 25 minutes to
move Victor 36 floors. I guess they moved
1 floor every 1.5 minutes. Just a guess.
This means Harry was around the 20th floor
when the building collapsed. As of now 12
of 13 people are accounted for. As of 6pm
yesterday his wife had not heard from him.
I fear that Harry is lost. However, a short
while ago I heard that he may be alive.
Apparently there is a web site with survivor
names on it and his name appears there.

Unfortunately, Ramos is not an uncommon
name in New York. Pray for him and all
those like him. With regards to the
firemen heading upstairs, I realize that
they were going up anyway. But, it hurts
to know that I may have made them move
quicker to find my friend. Rationally, I
know this is not true and that I am not
the responsible one.

The responsible ones are in hiding somewhere
on this planet and damn them for making me
feel like this. But they should know that
they failed in terrorizing us. We were
calm. Those men and women that went up were
heroes in the face of it all. They must
have known what was going on and they did
their jobs.

Ordinary people were heroes too. Today
the images that people around the world
equate with power and democracy are gone
but "America" is not an image it is a
concept. That concept is only strengthened
by our pulling together as a team. If you
want to kill us, leave us alone because we
will do it by ourselves. If you want to
make us stronger, attack and we unite.

This is the ultimate failure of terrorism
against The United States and the ultimate
price we pay to be free, to decide where
we want to work, what we want to eat, and
when & where we want to go on vacation.

The very moment the first plane was hijacked,
democracy won.