Terror, Odyssey, Acts of Kindness As fate would have it, the trio from

Terror, Odyssey, Acts of Kindness As fate would have it, the trio from
Terror, Odyssey, Acts of Kindness
As fate would have it, the trio from Charnley & Røstvold – Jackie, Ryan and Christine had a 9:00 a.m. appointment with Deutsche Bank on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The
meeting was originally scheduled for the following day, but another client needed to
schedule a conference call then, so we moved the meeting up a day. Deutsche was
located at 130 Liberty Street – also known as Two World Trade Center. Jackie’s bad feet
may have saved the trio that day.
Jackie and I left the OMNI Berkshire Hotel at 7:30 a.m. to walk to Jennison. We saw
Adam Susser, a Jennison employee, on the corner of 52nd and Madison, and walked over
together. It was a bright, warm, sunny day. Ryan took a cab with two boxes of materials
for our afternoon meeting with Jennison and met us there. Just before 8:00 a.m., we left
Jennison for our meeting Although we had planned to take a subway, it was hot and
Jackie said her feet couldn’t take 30 minutes of standing on the subway, so she suggested
we take a taxi from Jennison to Deutsche, then take a subway back. We all agreed it was
a sound plan.
Thanks to the nice weather, taxis were plentiful and traffic was light. We arrived at Two
World Trade Center at 8:30 a.m. Had we taken the subway as planned, we would have
been walking into the building at about 8:45 a.m. We entered the building and signed in
with Security at the reception desk in the main lobby. Our client had not notified
Security that we were coming, so there were no name badges that would permit us to
proceed up the elevators to Deutsche’s offices. Security called Rose Turiello, who had
coordinated our meeting, and left a voicemail that we had arrived. As we waited for Rose
to call down, Jackie, Ryan and I kidded about running past the two security guards
guarding the escalators to the elevator lobby. Jackie said she’d probably trip, and Ryan
surmised that he’d probably get arrested when he stopped to help her.
After waiting about ten minutes, we asked Security to try the other two individuals who
would be attending our meeting, as Jackie’s feet were beginning to hurt from standing too
long. Security left voicemails for the other two. Moments later, at 8:48 a.m., One World
Trade Center was hit by, what we discovered later, a 757 Jet. First we heard two loud
explosions, followed by a series of loud tapping noises and saw people running in the
street. We thought bombs were exploding and that someone was shooting. It was cement
and debris hitting the street. More building debris and fire began to rain down into the
street, followed by a shower of white paper between the two buildings. Reacting to
growing up in earthquake land, I yelled to Jackie and Ryan to get under a door archway
adjacent to the Security desk. Ryan ran closer to the glass front of the building. Jackie
remained by the Security desk watching the chaos unfold. Ryan saw an injured woman
outside and wanted to go help her. Another gentleman had already run to her aid and had
her sitting in a UR Plumbing van. I urged Ryan to stay inside, as it was too dangerous.
The street had been transformed into a war zone – littered with chunks of cement, paper,
debris, bodies and fires burning everywhere.
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A voice came over the PA system in Two World Trade Center that there had been a
tragic accident across the street and that everyone should stay on their floors and remain
in the building. A man ran into the lobby announcing that an airplane had hit One World
Trade Center. Ryan said it was no accident; it had to be bombs. Jackie and I were
shaking like leaves.
Before we could decide what to do next, our building was rocked by a tremendous
explosion, which we thought was a bomb. It was 9:05 a.m. More debris, fire and paper
were raining down in the street in front of the building. Jackie turned to Ryan and me
and said, “I love you guys.” It was a terrifying moment, and we all wondered if we
would get out alive.
Through the door archway where we were standing, there was a stairway down to the
basement of the building. I considered it, but remembered the 1993 bombing in the
basement of the World Trade Center, and decided against it. A woman came in from the
street bleeding but not badly hurt, and we directed her to the restrooms. Security came to
accompany her. The next voice that came over the PA system was that of the Building
Bomb Security. He urged everyone to move to the north side of the building. We moved
in that direction with a mass of other terrified people, but immediately discovered we
were surrounded by glass and marble. We saw a backside door, looked at each other and
with the same thought Ryan said, “let’s go.” Ryan offered to carry Jackie, who replied,
“this is life or death, I can run.” And run we did. When we got out the door, we saw a
lot of people running west away from the burning buildings and raining hell, so we
followed suit. There parked next to the curb, was the same UR Plumbing van that had
been parked in front of the building 20 minutes earlier. We knew it was the same van
because it was covered with debris much more so than the other cars parked nearby. The
back of the van was open and four men wearing all black were around the van. As we
ran by, two of the men threw something in the back of the van that made a loud clunk.
Then another man threw a bicycle in the van. Jackie commented that it was the same van
and seemed odd, but we decided to keep running.
As we ran, Ryan and I were madly dialing our cell phones trying to get through to anyone
to connect and share that we were okay. We knew our families on the West Coast were
rising with the early morning news. We ran about four blocks and stopped to decide
where to go. As we ran away from the mayhem, firemen and police were running into it
to see what they could do to save lives. We looked back at the twin towering infernos
and saw for the first time what the rest of the world was seeing on national TV. It was a
horrifying sight. Jackie noted there was some huge slab of metal sticking out of the right
side of Tower Two. We would later realize it was the nose of the plane.
Jackie wanted to head east and then uptown. Fearing more explosions, I wanted to keep
heading west away from buildings and toward the water. I thought we would be able to
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make our way up the West Highway toward midtown. We waited at a big intersection,
where police were directing traffic, moving private cars out of and emergency vehicles
into the area as fast as possible. We looked back at the WTC and saw flames and black
smoke pouring from both towers. We also saw people falling and jumping from the
upper floors. Across the intersection, we stopped at Battery Park and prayed for those
less fortunate souls who had not escaped the infernos.
I finally got through to my husband, Dennis at about 9:20 a.m. (6:20 a.m. California
time). He had been awakened by a call from my brother Roger 20 minutes earlier.
Dennis was watching the horror on TV and told me that American and United Airlines
jets filled with passengers had hit both towers, as well as the Pentagon, and that another
had gone down in Pennsylvania. We were at war. I asked Dennis to call Ryan’s parents,
Pat and Charles (with whom Jackie’s son Jordan was staying), my Mom and Dad, and
our C&R team and let them know we were out of the building and okay. He asked me
where we were and I counted about four buildings over. Then we lost our connection.
Jackie, Ryan and I realized that our only chance of getting back to midtown would be on
foot, so we started walking north on the promenade along the water. Jackie said she
could make it out of the area if we stopped and rested periodically. Ryan hesitated as our
route was taking us closer to the twin towers. We agreed that if we stayed close to the
water, we could jump in and swim if need be. Ryan suggested that in case something
should happen, we should put our id somewhere it would stay with us. I tucked my
driver’s license, insurance card, two credit cards and some cash into my bra.
Suddenly we heard a rumble, and people started running south. We ran with them. We
thought another bomb had exploded. In fact, the south tower was coming down. The
implosion created an avalanche cloud of dust, ash and debris, which rapidly descended
upon us from both the left and right. As the cloud swallowed us and pitched us into total
darkness, someone yelled to cover our mouths and noses with a piece of cloth and to
breathe slowly through the cloth. Jackie and I were both wearing scarves, which we
wrapped around our heads and faces, as we kept walking south. Jackie yelled at Ryan to
use his tie. Our fear was renewed by the sudden sound of jets overhead and what
sounded like swarms of helicopters. We wondered if more bombs were coming and
whether we would survive. We learned later that what we heard were fighter jets, which
had converged on the area to prevent further attacks. Eventually a breeze began to clear
the cloud. Our first view across the water was of the Statue of Liberty – still standing
intact and proud. It was a comforting sight. We looked back at the towers and Two
World Trade Center was gone. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing – or not seeing.
We were covered with ash and debris.
Jackie and I had stayed close together, but we had lost sight of Ryan, which caused
another rise of panic. We both yelled his name several times, and finally found him.
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Ryan’s hair, like my black suit jacket, was completely gray. Jackie’s black scarf and
white jacket were gray.
Throughout this entire ordeal, the crowd of people of which we were a part stayed
relatively calm overall. Before the dust cloud had completely cleared, we saw a Japanese
tourist asking a policeman for directions to the Empire State Building. Unbelievable!
One mother with a baby in a stroller became hysterical, and several people tried to calm
her. We saw many abandoned baby strollers where people had opted to hold their babies
close and flee for their lives. Jackie noticed a young man with cell phone in hand,
wearing nothing but his boxers – not even any shoes.
At some point, someone handed me an extra medical mask. I saw an older woman
struggling to push a baby in a stroller with one hand and pull a rolling piece of luggage
with another. Her face wasn’t covered. Ryan and I ran over to her, and I handed her the
mask and told her to put in on. She put in on upside down and with the elastic string just
hanging on the back of her neck. I took it off and put it on the right way and hooked the
elastic band over her ears and told her to pinch the metal strip over her nose. We asked if
we could help her and she said she was heading to her daughter’s home just a block or
two away and thought she could make it. Not wanting to separate, we let her go. The
guilt of letting her struggle on alone still haunts me.
At that point the police and emergency workers began to direct people to stay calm, keep
their faces covered and keep moving south. A few minutes later, we all heard another
terrible rumble. The north tower was coming down. We didn’t realize that at the time.
Just then my cell phone rang. It was our colleague, Sally. She had heard from Linda that
we were out of the building and asked if they could do anything for us. I said not at the
moment, but to tell Dennis I love him. Sally said you’re going to come out of this alive
so don’t worry. I wasn’t so sure. The police were ordering everyone to get on the ground
with their backs to the towers, cover their heads and to stop talking. We were directly in
front of a tall skyscraper and wanted to keep moving, but the police ordered us to stay
down where we were. Jackie didn’t want to lie down and only did so after she saw Ryan
and me following the police orders. I told Sally I had to hang up. She said, “Don’t hang
up, keep talking to me.” A policeman ordered us again to stop talking, so I said I had to
go and closed the phone. Jackie reached out to a young man on one side of us and a
terrified woman kneeling next to her and said, “we’re going to be okay.” Before long, we
were swallowed by another cloud of ash and soot. Another woman kneeling close by
said she was a nurse and to breathe slowly through our noses with a single layer of cloth
covering our faces. We realized we had been breathing through our mouths and tried to
breathe as instructed. Jackie learned that the young man, in his early 20s, had just moved
to Newark from Chicago and started working at his new job in the World Trade Center
two weeks earlier. She told him his parents would be worried and probably would want
him to move home. She was trying to distract him from the horror around us.
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When the second cloud cleared, the north tower had vanished. Only billows of smoke
were visible rising from the ruins of the twin towers. The sky overhead was bright blue
and Ryan let us know that the jets were ours.
I asked the woman next to Jackie her name. When she said Alicia, I knew we were
meant to stay together – my sister, Ellen’s middle name was Alicia. Jackie, Ryan, Alicia
and I moved to the grass nearby and sat facing the water, leaning against a low cement
wall. Everyone around us was covered with soot and ash. Emergency workers were
wheeling injured people by on gurneys. People were yelling to boats that were passing
by for help. At about 10:30 a.m. a boat, the first of many to come, pulled up to the rail of
the promenade to rescue the first of the injured, the elderly, and the babies and children.
We still thought once the dust settled, we would be able to start working our way north to
midtown.
More boats began to line up at the rail. Men in pairs were lifting people over the rail and
down onto the boats. The police ordered everyone to evacuate. Someone told us that if
we got on a boat, we’d end up in Staten Island or New Jersey and would never get back
to midtown Manhattan. We hesitated and were told, you can stay here where who knows
what will happen next, or you can got on the boat and be safe. We headed for the nearest
boat. We crowded on with others, sitting by the rail in case another horrible event
happened. We still had confidence in our swimming abilities to help us survive. By
11:30 a.m., we were on our way to New Jersey. The sight of the Twin Towers gone was
horrifying and sad. The Statue of Liberty gleaned in the sunlight.
We disembarked in New Jersey and another whole odyssey was about to begin. There
was no one giving directions on where we should go. We spied a construction latrine and
with great gratitude walked past quiet construction workers to use their facilities. An
American flag hung half-mast on the shell of a building, totally quiet as workers stopped
all work in grief and disbelief. We followed the crowd to the Harborside, New Jersey
train station. Train service had been suspended. Neither Ryan nor I could get through to
anyone on our cell phones. We found a pay phone and waited in line to make our calls.
All circuits were busy, so our attempts from the landline were fruitless as well. Ryan’s
cell phone rang and it was his hysterical Mom. The connection was broken within a
minute, but he managed to let her know that we were alive and in New Jersey and to give
her several more numbers to call.
We asked policemen how we could get back to Manhattan. We were told all routes into
the city had been closed. Uh, oh.
Alicia thought there was a Marriott Hotel up the road, which by that point was closed to
all but emergency vehicles. We started to walk, thinking we’d book a room for the night.
We didn’t get far before Jackie started to wince with every step. Her poor feet had
reached their limit. I spied two abandoned shopping carts – one orange plastic and one
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silver metal. I asked Jackie if she preferred plastic or metal; she replied plastic. I rolled
the cart over and said hop in. She resisted at first, saying, I’m not getting in that thing.
We convinced her otherwise, and in she went. She was totally humiliated, but Alicia
reassured her that desperate times require desperate measures. Ryan assured Jackie that
no one would notice her anyway because they would all be staring at the smoking skyline
of lower Manhattan behind her. Ryan pushed, Alicia and I followed. Along the way, we
passed a woman who was offering shelter, water and coffee in the community room of
her apartment complex. We thanked her and said if we didn’t find a hotel room, we
would be back. We also passed an entrepreneurial young fellow who was selling ice-cold
bottled water for $1 a bottle. I bought four bottles and passed them out. Water never
tasted so good!
We kept walking and eventually reached the Marriott. Ryan went in to use the phone; I
went to the reception desk. The hotel was booked and the lobby was filled with people
hoping for a cancellation. I asked the woman at the counter if she could help us find a
room at another hotel and she said everything within 50 miles was sold out.
I went outside to give Jackie and Alicia the news. Jackie had disembarked from her cart,
and both were sitting on the curb. We kidded about sleeping in the grass with our cart.
Jackie was completely attached to the cart. I got through to our client John Hobbs, CEO
of Jennison Associates (with whom we had been scheduled to meet that afternoon) on my
cell phone. He was in the boardroom with his senior management team. I told him
where we were and our predicament. Jennison is owned by Prudential, which is
headquartered in Newark. John said he would contact Pru and see if they could find a
place for us. Meanwhile, he would have a representative from Deloitte, Jennison’s
disaster recovery consultant try to pick us up. I said that might be difficult, because no
private cars were being allowed in or out of the area. Ambulances and police cars were
racing back and forth down the roads in front of us. He took my cell phone number and
said he would have an associate call.
While I was on the phone with John, Ryan emerged from the hotel and said he had
connected with his roommate from California, Adam, who happened to be in Whippany,
New Jersey on business and had a room at the Marriott Residence Inn. He said if we
could get there, we could all stay in his room for the night. I shared the news with John,
and he agreed that sounded like our best option. I asked John if they could direct us to
Whippany. He asked his group if anyone knew; no one had heard of Whippany. They
looked it up and said it was miles away from our current location. I told John we would
try to find our way there, and would let him know if we got stranded.
We asked a policeman standing nearby how we could get to Whippany. He wasn’t sure,
but said our best bet was to walk to the Hoboken train station (several miles away) and
take a train from there. Before setting out, I attempted to use the restroom in the
Marriott, but was stopped at the front door and told by the doorman that only registered
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guests were being permitted in the hotel. The lobby was filled with refugees and they
had reached their capacity limit. Unbelievable! We also could not believe we were
walking to Hoboken!
We set out once again with Jackie in the cart. Along the way, we made use of an
outhouse at another construction site. We came to an A&P Market in Newport Plaza,
which had been converted to a command post for the police. Having skipped breakfast
that morning, we were starving. We left Jackie and Alicia at the sidewalk, and Ryan and
I approached the store. We asked the police if we could go inside and buy some food.
They said sure. We bought sandwiches, bananas, apples, carrots and more bottled water.
By the time we loaded up the shopping cart with our bags and Jackie using the cart as a
walker, we knew we looked like a group of dirty homeless people. We certainly attracted
attention from those we passed on the street. I didn’t think to buy a disposable camera in
the market.
Alicia who was in a sleeveless shift was beginning to burn and itch on her exposed skin.
My eyes were bothering me and we all had slight coughs. Jackie and I had the
beginnings of sunburn.
We continued our trek in the heat of the day with throbbing feet and sagging spirits. We
must have walked 10 miles that day. Alicia used my cell phone to leave a voicemail for
her husband. She had given her cell phone to a man who had escaped from the 64th floor
of the north tower and was desperate to reach his wife who worked on the 87th floor.
When the south tower came down, Alicia lost the man and her phone in the dust cloud
that ensued.
Finally, we reached the Hoboken train station and started asking men in orange vests
(station employees) if there was a train to Whippany. About the third or fourth person we
asked said we could take a train to the Newark Broad Station, a shuttle from there to the
Newark Penn Station, and probably a bus from there to Whippany. He said we’d have to
leave the shopping cart behind though and chuckled. Jackie sadly left it on the platform.
We boarded a standing-room-only train for Newark Broad Station. As the train took us
further away from New York, we began to feel safer. Once at Newark Broad Station, we
followed a mass of people down the stairs where they had a line of buses that would take
us to Newark Penn. Finally, we got to sit down.
Alicia had been extremely quiet throughout our journey. We were impressed with her
calm. We later discovered she was actually in shock. At the time of the attack, she was
on the 13th floor of a building close by, and heard the whoosh of the second plane as it
flew by and crashed into Two WTC. Because of her sleeveless shift, Alicia’s arms, legs
and face had been unprotected from the ash and debris cloud. Chalky gray soot still
clung to her hair and eyelashes. Sitting together on the shuttle, she mentioned that her
arms were burning. I searched my purse and came up with a bottle of mouthwash. We
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thought the alcohol might help to clean off the residue, so she rubbed it all over her arms.
I don’t think it helped much.
Once we reached Newark Penn Station, we were told to take bus number 73 in Lane 4A.
When the bus arrived, we told the driver where we wanted to go, and were told that the
last bus to Whippany had left at 3:15 p.m. She said her bus was going part way there, so
we hopped on board. All transportation, including the shopping cart, had been free up to
that point. We all started feeding dollars into the bus fare box. The driver informed us
that the normal fare was $1.90, but she’d let us ride for $1.
We made our way to the back of the bus and sat down. We were the only white people
on the bus. A gentleman sitting near the back on the left side of the bus had overheard us
talking to the bus driver. He informed us that the end of the line was a highway with two
gas stations and several miles from Whippany. He said we’d have a tough time getting a
taxi to come get us there. He offered to take us to his home, get his car and drive us the
rest of the way. Jackie and I could have kissed him - Ryan probably a hug!
Our savior’s name was Edward Ntim-Addae. We got off the bus in West Orange, New
Jersey and crossed a busy highway. There were two girls waiting on the corner and he
yelled at them – “didn’t I tell you to stay in the house? Get back in the house.” They ran
ahead into the house. I asked if they were his girls and he said, “No, they’re my wife’s
sister’s kids.” Edward’s wife met us at the door and he introduced us all. Edward
offered us some refreshments and asked us to sit in the living room, which was bare
except for a couch, chair and table. He, his wife and the rest of the family ran up the
stairs for a short family meeting. Clearly, his anxious family did not want him to leave
and drive a group of strangers to Whippany.
Edward came back down and said, “okay let’s go; I’m told the car needs gas.” We said
we’d gladly buy the gas. After Ryan filled the tank, we were on our way to Whippany –
Jackie, Alicia and I sitting in the back, and Ryan up front with Edward. Ryan asked
Edward what he did, and Edward said it depends on the day. During the week, he’s a
CPA for Bear Sterns. On Sundays, he’s a Pentecostal minister. He also teaches
accounting. From his pedal-to-the-metal driving, I would have sworn he’s a racecar
driver on Saturdays. Clearly, Edward was anxious to return to his family. Sitting in the
middle of the back seat with no seat belt, all I could think was that God wouldn’t let me
survive the attack on the WTC only to let me die in an auto accident. Jackie had her arm
out across my body to hold me in place as the car flew down the highway and around
curves.
Whippany was a good half hour drive from West Orange. We finally arrived at the
Marriott Residence Inn, where Ryan’s roommate, Adam was waiting out front for us.
After effusive thank yous to Edward (and his refusal to accept payment), he was on his
way. Ryan went off to room 252 with Adam, and Jackie, Alicia and I went inside to
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inquire about another room. They too were sold out. How could that be we wondered –
Whippany was out in the middle of nowhere! Apparently families fleeing New York had
sold out the hotel.
The reception staff at this Marriott, staring at our disarray with wide eyes, was quite
helpful and started calling around. They found us a room at an Embassy Suites in
Parsippany, the town next door, at a price of $350 a night. We said we’d take it! They
gave us each a “starter kit,” which contained a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and
deodorant. They also volunteered their driver Charles to shuttle us over. We arrived at
the Embassy Suites at 5:30 p.m. What a day!
We checked into our room and called our loved ones to let them know where we were.
Alicia finally connected with her husband, who had been frantic with worry. He hadn’t
gotten her voicemail due to an AT&T malfunction. He said he would drive to Whippany
and rescue her that night.
We inquired with the hotel staff if there was a place where we could buy some new
clothes. We limped about ½ mile to a strip shopping center with a Marshall’s. A sign on
the door informed us that they had closed early (at 3:00 p.m.) due to the tragedy. I had
noticed t-shirts and socks in the hotel gift shop, so we hurried back to buy t-shirts to sleep
in. We asked at the front desk for a restaurant nearby where we could get some dinner.
A gentleman standing there suggested an Italian restaurant down the road, Eccola. We
called Ryan and invited him and Adam to join us. Adam had a business meeting, so
Ryan said he’d meet us there.
Alicia left a note and directions to the restaurant at the hotel reception desk for her
husband. After driving 15 miles past Whippany and two calls to my cell phone, Alicia’s
husband, Maik, finally found us at the restaurant during our first course. Their happy
reunion was so touching. After dinner, we returned to our hotels. Maik insisted on
driving back to their apartment in Manhattan that night, so Alicia gathered her things and
we hugged goodbye. Jackie and I took showers then watched the news until about 1:30
a.m. We saw the tapes of the jet hitting our building and the devastation that followed.
We knew then how truly lucky we all were to be alive and uninjured. Our guardian
angels had done their work.
In the morning, after numerous calls, we learned one train was running back into New
York. The tunnels, ferries and bridges remained closed. We put our sooty clothes (which
I had shaken out as best I could) back on, had breakfast at the hotel and waited for Ryan’s
arrival via taxi. Our trip back to Manhattan that day was as easy as the previous day’s
trek had been difficult. We took the hotel shuttle to the Morris Plains train station.
Within five minutes, we boarded a New Jersey Transit PATH train that took us all the
way to New York Penn station on 34th Street. Before we entered the tunnel that took us
under the river and back into Manhattan, we saw lower Manhattan and the smoke that
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continued to pour from the hole where the twin towers had once stood. From New York
Penn Station, we took a cab back to our hotel. At 2:00 p.m., we were back in our rooms at
the OMNI Berkshire.
The next day, we were able to connect with Alicia and Maik. We learned that all routes
back into the city remained closed the night of the attack. Rather than drive 1 1/2 hours
back to our hotel, they opted to sleep in the car for a few hours. In the morning, Maik
took Alicia to the hospital. Her skin and eyes continued to burn, and she had inhaled a lot
of smoke and soot. They were quarantined as a potential biohazard for about six hours,
but the hospital did let Alicia take a shower. Maik said they finally got home about 3:00
p.m. on Wednesday, and were so exhausted; they collapsed in bed and slept.
It was an anxious five days after the attack before we were able to get a flight home. We
considered the Amtrak and even rented a car. Ryan said his knees couldn’t take a four
hard-day road trip, so we opted to stay and wait for a flight. Fighter jets continued to
circle Manhattan, and any loud noises made us jumpy. We went back to Jennison’s
office on Thursday and tried to do some work, but found it very difficult to concentrate.
Within an hour, we were evacuated due to a bomb threat at Grand Central Station next
door. Ted Voss, our friend and a consultant who worked with us at Jennison, was an
angel. He made dinner arrangements every night and introduced us to New Yorkers who
wanted to hear our story. He knew it would be healthy for us to tell it. He shepherded
our mental health all week and for that we are eternally grateful. That week, restaurants
were deserted and our hotel, normally oversold in the fall months, was nearly empty. The
devastating economic impact of the attack was rapidly apparent. Jackie and I went to our
favorite Italian restaurant Saturday night, and we were the only people, besides the
waiters, in the restaurant. We have become friendly with many of these people over the
years, and have seen them endure recessions and booms. Suddenly, they are seeing the
worst business impact ever, and are worrying about how they will pay their bills. We left
a $100+ tip to show our support.
Sunday, September 16, we finally had a flight due to go home. We arrived at JFK at 8:30
a.m. for our 12-noon flight to LA. At the ticket counter, the agent informed us that our
flight was cancelled. The best he could do was split us up and send us to San Francisco –
Jackie on an 11:15 a.m. flight, and Ryan and me at 3:45 p.m. We were upset at the
prospect of splitting up, Jackie in tears, but the agent had already booked us, and at least
we’d be on the West Coast. We knew we could drive home from there if we couldn’t get
connecting flights.
We went upstairs to the Admirals Club, and Jackie and Ryan noted on the departure
board that the noon flight to LA was in fact going and on time. An angel at the desk in
the Admirals Club, Felicia, thankfully found that our reservations on the noon flight were
still intact, issued our boarding passes, cancelled the San Francisco flights, and spent the
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next hour tracking down our checked luggage and rerouting it to the LAX flight. We
were overjoyed. Felicia, we all thank you so much!
The flight home was quiet and tense. The pilot and flight attendants made no reference to
the prior week’s tragedies and did their best to act cheerful and normal. When we
touched down in LA, everyone on the plane applauded. If anything, security was even
tighter in LAX than at JFK. There were police everywhere, and no personal cars were
allowed curbside. We had never seen LAX so empty. Our bags were on the carousel by
the time we reached baggage claim. Our car service was waiting and whisked us out of
the heavily guarded airport. There were no cars parked in the parking structure in the
center of the airport or the short-term lot. LAX was taking no chances. We were home!
Homecoming was bittersweet. Though overjoyed to be home with our families and
friends, we definitely left a piece of our hearts behind. We missed Ted and felt guilty
leaving him. We thought of Alicia afterward. Our bonds with New York and our friends
there were strengthened by the tragedies and the aftermath that have altered all our lives.
The outpourings of love and support on our behalf, and unity and spirit on behalf of our
great nation have been heartening and healing.
Written by: Christine M. Røstvold, and edited by Jacqueline L. Charnley and Ryan
Ortuno
Charnley & Røstvold, Inc.
31401 Rancho Viejo Road
Suite 102
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
www.charnleyrostvold.com
cr@candr.us
P: 949-487-3500
F: 949-487-3510
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