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

Avoiding Detection
The next day when we returned to the Flea Market, as our area was now being called, we discovered that in the middle of the night the FBI had arrived to remove all of the civilian volunteers and set up checkpoints. We had escaped detection by snoozing in the fireman's quarters the night before, lucky for us, but the event certainly fueled even more rumours of the dangers of getting kicked out and the importance of proper ID badges. At this point, we still did not have any official ID whatsoever that said we belonged (not to mention that Aimee had no photo ID at all). Nearly every hour, someone would run up and say "OEM is coming, FEMA is coming! You need a red badge! And two forms of photo ID! And a note from your mother!" We had seen so many acronyms over the past few days that a couple more didn't faze us in the slightest.

Despite the stress of the threats, we decided to just do our jobs until someone physically came up to us to escort us out. We knew how necessary we were. They were letting in firemen, steelworkers, heavy machinery operators, but there were no qualifications for the guy who keeps the Gatorade cold and knows where the size nine steel toes are. There is no qualification for grunt laborers, and we knew full well that a soldier from the National Guard was not about to take the time to ask if you've changed your socks and give you a new pair of insoles. Sure, we could understand the importance of the IDs, but hell, we knew we were necessary.

The plan was that if any official questioned our validity, we would try to get out of trouble with a few simple questions. After all, who was going to take over our stations when we left? Granted, our jobs seemed to be the least important, since any idiot can fill a bucket with ice, but on the other hand, we were the people who did the jobs that no one would ever be hired to do, like picking up trash and sweeping and sorting the donations, and we couldn't imagine army officials doing these jobs with the care that we were giving them...

Where can I find saline solution? Medical, second stall from the left. Where's the hot food? Closest place is the boat; we've only got snacks. Where are the safety goggles? Third stall, second bucket. The tinted ones are under the table since we only put out the clear. Where can I get size 8 1/2 boots? We don't have 8 1/2s, and the smallest new ones we have are 10E. There are some second hand 8s and 9s, at best a pair of military 8Ns I found in the pile. Other than that, I can easily get you a pair of galoshes. Where is the fireman's triage? Down to the end, take a left into the doors, cross the courtyard and go up the stairs at the other end. Second floor of the Amex building. (All this is true, and we'd be hard pressed to find a soldier who could answer more than two of these questions.)

To add more fuel to the fire, rumours started coming in of people who were discovered as fakes. There had been word of press people in full EMS gear, fake firefighters, and a number of others who needed to be ousted from the premises. But there were some scares. In one instance, a guy named Jordan, who had been there for two days, came up to Kevin, surrounded by a handful of National Guard, helmets and all, and asked Kevin to confirm his innocence.

"Kevin! You asked me to get you ice, didn't you?"
"Yes, I asked you to find me ice anywhere you could, I'm fresh out."
"And... and Wilbert! You wanted me to find boots, right?"

He was going from person to person, saying, "You know me, right?" but the armed guards would have none of that. They looked through the boots, looked through his backpack, looking for anything that could incriminate him.

Aimee had one man drive up in a golf cart, walk up to her and flash his detective card very closely in her face. He proceeded to scream that he was there to get stuff for the men on the pit and the police weren't doing a damn thing except trying to hit on her and she shouldn't listen to them. Then he brought her over to his golf cart and tried to bargain for boots by saying that he had socks to trade. When Aimee tried to explain that he could go over and talk to Will at the boot section because he knew all the boots that day, he said no, showed her the badge again, as though it gave him some sort of seniority, and told her he wanted to deal with her and that was it. She brought him to storage and consequently found out that there were no boots. While trying to explain this to the man, he kept on yelling and generally not making any sense. He started to harass another lady and at that point, Aimee and the other woman went up to the closest officer in battle fatigues and had him removed. Trust us, it was the best for everybody.

Current Location
The Flea Market

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© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman.