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

Thursday Night, Friday Morning
It began to rain. More volunteers were leaving. We stepped in and took different positions on the dock. We lifted boxes, moved piles of equipment, made sure everyone helping out had eaten in the past eight hours.

It was a strange mix of people volunteering on the pier that night. Most were there to genuinely help, and were running place-to-place in order to make sure the important jobs were done. These were die hard, no nonsense volunteers. Hand them a box and point.

There were the managers, and far too many of them. When there's a job like this to get organized, there needs to be a clear leader, single points of contact, and a whole lot of strong bodies nearby to follow orders. The correct orders. There were too many people who decided that they should run the show, and were pointing this way and that. Too often did we move a palette of Gatorade halfway to the boat, then have to move it all back.

Then there was what we liked to call the "tourists". They weren't there because they wanted to help. They were there posing as helpers in the hopes that they could get over to the site and see dead people. "I hear they're starting to let volunteers dig up bodies," we overheard on one occasion. Not find survivors, not rescue people, but dig up bodies. Some of the female "tourists" were obviously there to hit on the firemen. Nobody comes to a volunteer rescue mission in a tank top and heels, or a full face of makeup. Some of these people looked like they were waiting in line to get into a club, rather than hauling buckets and shovels to a terrorist attack site.

But the supplies kept moving. Bodies were bodies, and at that late at night, bodies were needed. Stacks of ice, boxes of socks, pallets of Powerbars, anything to keep the rescue workers going. Everyone got along well enough and did what needed to be done.

The rain got worse. A New York rainstorm is usually a short, ten minute downpour, bucket after bucket, followed by a clear sky. Tonight, the buckets kept coming. We couldn't imagine what was going on at Ground Zero, although at the very least this should dampen the dust and aid the still raging fire. A mixed blessing.

Well past midnight, we were still there, still going strong. We could feel the rush that the firefighters must have in a rescue operation, the rush that makes them stay awake for days at a time. We understood what keeps them going. Sure, we weren't saving lives, but we were taking care of those who were. We had made it past the police line of helpless onlookers and were putting some muscle into the effort. We felt good.

Three tons of ice was loaded onto the boat, as the night got colder. They were losing workers on the other end as the night wore on, and counted off twenty-five more people to aid the volunteer effort at Ground Zero. We were numbers twenty-three and twenty-four.

Current Location
Jersey City, NJ

see the full map...

Your email address...

© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman.