As part of Disaster Preparedness Month, we’ll be taking a close-up look at some of the most devastating disasters in recent history. The following article is part of our Disaster Preparedness Month series.
It has been 15 years, and yet, I remember this day like it was yesterday.
It was mid-morning and I was alone in my apartment here in North Texas. I was going about my day as I normally did. My television hadn’t been on since the night before. I had no idea what had just happened. Then, my phone rings…
It was my Dad. In the calmest tone of voice he could, he tells me to turn on my TV. I asked “What channel?” His reply? “It doesn’t matter, it’s on every channel.”
It was in those brief seconds as I’m searching for the remote that my heart began to race like crazy. I instantly picked up on the slight change in my Dad’s tone of voice before I turned on the TV. As I hit the power button, my heart was in my throat. I look up and there was fire and smoke bellowing out of the Twin Towers in New York City. The second tower had just been hit. Then I hear the words on the news…words I never thought I would hear in my lifetime…”Terrorist Attack.”
On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four fuel-loaded US commercial airplanes bound for west coast destinations. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York City, Washington DC, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania — a terrorist attack led by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. This day changed our country and the rest of the world forever.
I would like to share with you a story of how one man’s father being prepared got him through the first evening on 9/11/2001. The story continues with his son’s return home to New York a few months later and what he witnessed…
“This story involves 3 people. Me, my father, and my uncle. On February 22, 2001 I was discharged from the army for medical reasons. I had found a job working in a assembly plant when 9/11 happened. I remember everything from that day — from shutting down the lines, listening to a radio I had there, to hearing the first reports of the plane. My father was living in Brooklyn at the time and had decided to go in late (he worked in Jersey), but he was in Manhattan when the planes hit. The bridges and tunnels shut down which meant he was locked in Manhattan that night into the next day — but, he was prepared.
My father always carried things in his car that we thought were funny. Water, clothes, and a trunk full of tools. He also always carried a pound of coffee with him. The night of 9/11 the cell network was shut down. I remember trying to call him for hours but could never get through. My father later said that on that night he gave his clothes away to people who were not prepared to spend the night in the city. I remember my father telling me how he was making coffee in a tin can and straining it out with pantyhose. He slept in his car that night like thousands of others.
Fast forward a few months. My father was diagnosed with cancer. I went to New York to take care of things while he was in the hospital. I was staying with family in east New York. My uncle owned his own dump truck and was contracted to help with the clean up at the site. My uncle John woke me up early to go to work with him. I remember pulling up to the site. You weren’t allowed to have the windows down because of all the dust. I grew up in New York and seeing the Twin Towers and the New York skyline was what you remember the most. It was eerie pulling up with the windows up, wearing dust masks, and seeing cranes load up debris. I can tell you with certainty that there were body parts in the rubble. The amount of carnage was unbelievable. The trucks were being sprayed with water to keep the dust down when leaving the site. You could still smell death in the air.”
Life After 9/11
For so many of us, myself included, the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were a wake up call. Since that day, each American citizen has done their best to get back to ‘normal’ life; however, the ‘norm’ for us all has changed. The feeling of uncertainty weighs on each of us every single day. Never knowing what can happen based on what has happened…well, it eats at you.
Every time you turn on the news, you wonder if you’ll hear of yet another terrorist attack. There have been several terrorist attacks since 9/11…on American soil. The feelings of complete insecurity and uncertainty that each terrorist attack has left behind is indescribable; which brings me to one question.
What can each of us do to feel somewhat safe and secure again?
For me, as a survivalist, it’s being prepared for any emergency situation.
“Finding out what can happen is the first step. Once you have determined the events possible and their potential in your community, it is important that you discuss them with your family or household. Develop a disaster plan together.” – The American Red Cross Organization
More advice from the American Red Cross Organization – What to do if a terrorism event occurs:
- Remain calm and be patient.
- Follow the advice of local emergency officials.
- Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.
- If the event occurs near you, check for injuries. Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
- If the event occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. Check for fires, fire hazards, and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
- Shut off any other damaged utilities.
- Confine or secure your pets.
- Call your family contact—do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
- Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.
More advice from the American Red Cross Organization on what to expect after a terrorist attack:
- There can be significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to buildings and the infrastructure. So employers need up-to-date information about any medical needs you may have and on how to contact your designated beneficiaries.
- Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels follows a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature.
- Health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits, maybe even overwhelmed.
- Extensive media coverage, strong public fear, and international implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.
- Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.
- You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding roads blocked for your safety.
- Clean-up may take many months.
Being prepared goes a little deeper than what’s stated above. What I mean by that is there are additional preparations you can make before a possible terrorist attack occurs, which will increase your chances of survival. The more information you gather, the better off you and your loved ones will be.
Our site is full of great information to become and stay prepared. Here are some of my favorite Survival Life articles on the different steps of preparedness.
The process of preparedness can be overwhelming if you are just starting out. That’s where we here at Survival Life come in. If you have any questions for us, please, always feel free to reach out to us.
In the uncertainty of our daily lives, if we stick together, if we prepare together…we will survive together!