six days at ground zero
sept 13 - 19, 2001
the trip so far...     contact kevin & aimee

 << Back to Day 15, Rhode Is.

Sept 11, 2001
The Pier
The Early Volunteers
Crossing the Hudson
First Sight
The Observation Room
Change of Priorities
The Scariest Night
Avoiding Detection
Selected Stories from GZ
Spirit of New York
More Stories from GZ
The OEM Arrives
The People
Back To The Real World
Thank You, To Everyone

Chronicle Journal, Sept 13
Personal Journal Documents Days Events

Chronicle Journal, Sept 17
Lakehead Grads in on Intense Volunteer Support Effort

NY Daily News, Sept 17
Camping at Ground Zero

Chronicle Journal, Sept 20
Hope, Horror Clearly Visible in New York

At The Pier
The traffic was surprisingly normal. Coupled with the events in the past few days we would have expected either an onslaught of cars heading towards or away from the city, or very little traffic at all. The traffic was about the same as any other day, though people weren't driving as aggressively as they used to. Less horns, less recklessness, and people didn't seem to care if you drove slower than usual. Everyone seemed in a daze.

We arrived near the pier and parked the car. We had been told by the radio not to park too close, since traffic congestion would impede ambulances, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. We parked on the corner of Columbus and Washington and asked the traffic cop directions to 70 Hudson, the pier.

Four blocks later, we arrived at a crowd of people on the waterfront and a maze of police barrier tape. Most had come down to see if there was anything they could do, while some were just there to take photos. The bottom line: they had too many people there already.

We watched the bustle from beyond the tape. Every fifteen minutes or so, a ferry or a tug would arrive, and a long chain of volunteers would pass equipment or water or ice hand over hand until it filled the boat. Occasionally, a boat filled with workers, cops or firemen would dock. They'd emerge, covered head to toe in dust, to the sound of applause.

After two hours of waiting patiently, it was getting dark and some of the would-be volunteers started to trickle off. We decided that we had to do something before we left, and if you're not going to be assigned a job, you might as well make your own.

So we became "Tape Lifters". There were stretches of barrier tape across certain areas, mostly to keep the civilians out, but everyone who went through had to either duck or lift the tape over their heads. Why not? We each took a side of the tape, and whenever someone approached we lifted the tape for an easy walk and occasionally a smile. Anything that makes someone's life easier in a time like this is appreciated. It was a simple job, and nobody had to do it, but what the hell: it made people happy.

Over time, we started to gain a bit of authority. Knowledge is power, as they say. We were told to keep traffic on our level to a minimum. The EMS Commander of the scene met us and told us not to let anyone but EMS, Fire and Police through, and to inform anyone else to go around. We were able to direct newcomers to places they could drop off food, drinks and clothing. And most importantly, we knew where the bathroom was.

We befriended a few of the EMS workers. When we told Paul about our road trip he had pages and pages of places to visit. Most of them somehow involved a Harley Davidson bar or Red Stripe beer in some way.

It was great to talk to them, but in a way, sad that they had time to talk to us. There were so many EMS at the scene, but all they could do was stand and wait. No victims were arriving at the pier. A bad sign.

We saw three people come through on stretchers. The first was bandaged up in a few places and had a respirator, and could have been a survivor of the wreckage. Then again, the next two that came through were injured rescue workers, one with a broken leg and the other with a deep cut to the head.

The injured were met with cheers and applause, but you could see their frustration. Their faces were saying, "Thank you, but I don't deserve it. I've hurt myself, and now I can't help the rest of my team." These men and women are selfless. They don't sleep or eat because it's a waste of time. If it's a toss up between them sleeping or others surviving, the choice is simple.

Current Location
Jersey City, NJ

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© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman.