My Journal, September 14, 2001 . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck


Found on Facebook.

Inspired by the article 9/11–We Remember by Mary O’Connor, I am sharing the first entry in my personal journal after the attack, unedited. Please excuse the rambling and the incorrect information. 

When I got out of the shower Tuesday morning (9/11) and turned on the TV, the World Trade Center was on fire. I called Greg at work, and he turned on the TV in his classroom. While we were watching, the second tower burst into flames, although the reason wasn’t readily ascertainable. I called Carly in Brooklyn. I was glad to know she was safe.

When I returned to the bedroom, Andy, who had been watching TV, told me a  second airplane had hit the building. I couldn’t understand it. That building had been there for 33 years without any accidents. How could there be two in one day? They replayed the film footage of the second tower bursting into flames, and this time I saw the plane fly around the back of the building and then the explosion as the plane passed through. They they said the two planes had been hijacked. Finally, I understood–this was not an accident.

Then the news of the hit on the Pentagon–and the crash of a plane outside Pittsburgh. The news kept getting worse and worse.

I couldn’t stop watching TV. It looked like a disaster movie and had a feel of unreality. Then the first tower came crashing down. It looked like an implosion, like when a building is demolished. I got an email from Janell telling me not to go to work. I took Katie to school. By the time I came back, the second tower was gone. What a nightmare. My children were watching this happen on TV. Is it good for them to be seeing this? I tried to call Carly a few more times, but I couldn’t get through.

Carly emailed me that she was worried about Sara Jo, who is a flight attendant. She couldn’t phone out; would I please call her apartment and find out if she’s okay?

I called her apartment and spoke to her boyfriend. He said, “She’s fine. I just talked to her last night.” I had to fill him in on what was happening. Sara Jo was in Baltimore. He said he’d call her and get back to me later.

by Ben Sturner

by Ben Sturner

I had to take the cats to the vet for an appointment. Around 8:00 AM the power went out. This is it, I thought. The bombs are dropping. I called the animal clinic to ask if they had power and if they were taking patients. They said yes on both counts.

The power came back on, Matt helped me round up the kittens, and I took them to the vet. It took half an hour to check them in, and then I went to my writers group.

We didn’t do any critiquing at group, just talking and praying. When I got home I was relieved that no new targets were hit. I believed the worst was over.

On Wed. Mayor Giuliani said there were 4,763 people missing in NY. How can that be? If 50,000 work in the WTC, did 90% escape in the 40 minutes between the crash and the collapse?

Or did many of them never get to work?

There are stories of people who were supposed to be on those planes but weren’t, or who were supposed to be in that building but never got there. I think God intervened.

Donna F’s cousin was supposed to start a new job at WTC Tuesday, but his buddies took him out to celebrate Monday night–and he overslept.

Donna hasn’t yet heard about 35 of her friends who work at WTC.

I heard about a flight attendant in Phoenix who often works on one of the flights that was hijacked–but she drew jury duty.

I thought it was odd that there were only 45-90 passengers on those flights. Those were big planes–737, 757, 767–there should have been at least a hundred passengers on each. There were 288 total on the four planes.

Flight 93 that crashed outside of Pgh–after it was hijacked, passengers called home on cell phones to say goodbye to their loved ones. They found out about the WTC and Pentagon. One man told his wife, “The male passengers took a vote–we’re going to jump the hijackers.” They knew they were going to die anyway, but they wanted to preserve the lives of people at the intended target. The plane crashed in a rural area.

Two of the men who fought the hijackers were scheduled to be on different flights. One postponed his flight from the night before. The other was at the airport early, and was given the option of taking an earlier flight because Flight 93 was so empty.

One person told me their relative was bumped from one of the flights. How can that be, if there were so many empty seats?

The airlines always overbook. I can’t remember being on a plane with more than 2 empty seats.

I heard the CEO of Cantor-Fitzgerald, an investment firm on floors 100-105. He got to work late because he took his son to the first day of kindergarten. When he got to WTC, it was already on fire. He tried to go in, but couldn’t because of the people coming out. So he asked people as they came out, “What floor were you on?” 55, 62, 70, 84. He knew if 1 person from the 100th floor escaped, there would be others who left through other doors.

The highest floor anyone escaped from was 91. None of the 700 Cantor-Fitzgerald employees who were in the building escaped.

On Thursday when the airports reopened, a group of Middle Easterners at each NY airport (JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark) were dressed as pilots with fake IDs and attempted to board planes. It took all day for me to understand what this means–that the attacks stopped because the flights stopped. With the planes flying again, the risk of another attack is back. My relief is gone. We can be killed at any time.

What a strange war this is. We are most likely to encounter the enemy at the airport.


Found on Facebook.

One person rescued was a cop who had been on the 86th floor. He’s in the hospital with broken legs. He said he “rode the building down” when it collapsed.

That’s another thing–how did that building crumble like that? They took samples of the cloud that hung in the air and analyzed it. It was mostly gypsum (drywall) but also contained pulverized steel, glass, marble, and concrete. The hardest materials in the building were reduced to powder. Yet one of the least durable materials–paper–was fluttering around undamaged. Shouldn’t it have burned up? Or was this also God’s intervention, so that there would be less weight on the people trapped under the rubble?

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
This entry was posted in Doing Life Together, Faith, Fear and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Journal, September 14, 2001 . . . by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

  1. Your journal made me remember what I did 14 years ago. In our accounting office on Long Island, we worked all day while listening to frequent broadcasts. When I left our building that evening, I could smell the city. It was an odd odor which must have been those bits of glass, steel, gypsum, and marble you mentioned. Everyone noticed the quiet of the skies. What an awful day it was!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      My oldest daughter had just moved to Brooklyn, and she did a lot of sightseeing in the early days. Until I spoke to her on the phone, I was afraid she might have chosen that day to visit the World Trade Center.
      All those people who lost their spouses, their children, their parents, their friends and colleagues. It truly was an awful day.


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