September 11, 2001 - Page 2

Shirley Piel
Copyright 2001

11 September, 2001 began as any other work day. I got up, walked my dog Oliver, and primped for work. Just before leaving I grabbed my pager and scanned it for the latest news updates that are sent to it a few times each day.

It read that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. Thinking this was just a regular airline disaster, we turned on the tv to see the burning and chaos. My first thought when seeing the carnage was 'disaster recovery'.

I work in the Software Storage Group for my employer and part of my job is disaster recovery of data. I dashed off to work, anxious that my work load would suddenly jump and I'd be on the phone much more than I cared to be.

At work they had set up a television in our conference room but being an older television set, there was no closed captioning. I watched the pictures, surmising what was happening as a second plane hit the next tower, the Pentagon, and a fourth crashing in Pennsylvania.

The Internet wasn't much help...the news sites were clogged so the updates were slow. One of my team mates sent me a link that had a live news feed complete with video and sound. Was it captioned? No. The guy felt bad about this for me but that was ok because I was getting just enough details without relying upon closed captioning.

As it turned out, several of our customers contacted my employer that very day for help with restoring lost databases and other information, plus scores of other companies such as insurance carriers asked for assistance with their sudden need for increased computing capacity.

The work load did increase but not enough to make me panic when the phone rang. If I'm on the phone too much I get anxious because distinguishing words is getting more difficult. The people affected by the WTC attacks got priority attention and needed our best assitance.

How could I, a HOH person who asks people to repeat information, be a part of this team? It turns out that people who need help will take it however they can get it.

The work is not yet done but now I can breathe a sign of relief that I too can pull together to perform my job. The stress on me was nothing compared to those more involved with restoring data but it was rewarding to be a part of that job.

Kevin Ryan
Copyright 2001

Driving towards the Pentagon

On Tuesday morning I came in to work at Fort Belvoir and Annie, my boss who is good to me, came over to ask if I had remembered to go to a class at another Defense agency near the Pentagon. After being on a grand vacation at the Cape, of course I didn't remember.

So I had to leave (and I wasn't too thrilled about such a "short" notice and having to read the directions to DISA - Defense Information Systems Agency) - this was about 8:30 or so. I went south on Rte. 1 instead of 95 to avoid its rush-hour traffic; traffic was unusually heavy so I figured on accidents.

I missed the last left turn before the river and wound up in D.C. and had to turn around and traffic was SLOW; then I saw smoke behind the Pentagon on my right - I figured it was an oil burner or whatever - then I saw people milling about outside and cars were parked on the side of 95 and I heard unmarked cars with blaring sirens. As I crawled on and saw the side of the Pentagon I saw the base of the smoke but no plane debris (I didn't know about any attacks until I got back to Belvoir at about 12:35); I wanted to get the next exit for DISA but it was cordoned off so I got off at the next one and got onto Glebe Road which was even slower; but I made it to DISA only to be denied entry by security.

I then drove back to Belvoir taking a longer wider way back due to the unusual high volume of traffic; looking back thru the rear mirror on a hilly road the smoke beyond looked so HUGE and eerie and people were on the sidewalks looking at it and looking bewildered. I felt like the star of a sci-fi flick!!! Reaching Belvoir the parking lots were virtually empty but security there let me in because I wanted to see Anne but she was gone too.

Someone was still in my office area hanging around waiting for the traffic to thin out because she lives in Maryland across the river. Monica was the first person to tell me about the attacks detailing what she heard on her radio. My experience was so surreal being like the "On the Beach" movie...not quite that close to David Bowie as "The Man Who fell to Earth", tho. SUCH THICK BLACK BILLOWING SMOKE!!! Only God knows what could have happened if I had gone directly to the 8 am class from home therefore getting there earlier. The Pentagon is only about 13-15 miles from Fort Belvoir. Whew!!!!!!


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