September 11, 2001:Terese Rolke's Personal Account

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Andrea Tarr

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September 11, 2001 began as a gorgeous day. Everything changed when at 8:45am American Airlines Flight 11, bound for Los Angeles and loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. The impact left a burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, killing hundreds and trapping hundreds more. As the evacuation of both towers got underway, TV broadcasted what seemed to be a freak accident. Only 18 minutes after the first plane hit, United Airlines Flight 175, also bound for LA, came into view and turned sharply toward the WTC and rammed into the south tower near the 60th floor. This caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and streets below. Within 2 hours, both towers collapsed, and resulting fires caused the collapse of all other buildings in the WTC complex, as well as major damage to10 other surrounding structures. The structural steel of the WTC, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 mph and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by burning jet fuel.

Terese Rolke, an employee of American Express, was there. She was on vacation for the past 2 weeks and this was her first day back. Terese took the train to Newark, followed by the PATH to the WTC. She was just getting off the escalator to the shopping concourse when suddenly terrified screams filled the air, and people began stampeding towards exits, sweeping Terese along with the crowd. She had no awareness of what had happened and speculated someone might have had a gun. Others screamed a bomb had exploded inside the tower. This would be the last day Terese worked in NY, and today she’s sharing her personal account of what she experienced. After the interview, please check out After Hours at Jersey Coastal Live for additional information.

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