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Reported by Leslie Fuller
you know the frequent dream you have where you're being
chased, a big monstrous disaster is running you down and
you have to flee madly? in my dream, i never make it.
in reality tonight, i did. stephen westfall and i
volunteered (there were only 4 of us who did) to go down
to ground zero in a salvation army van to get water and
supplies to the rescue workers on the front lines.
stephen and i got off at the site of the former world
trade center as they were bringing up three airplane
seats. our salvation army truck moved on, lost, toward
another site while stephen and i stayed on alone and got
cold water and snacks from coolers to the exhausted
firefighters and cops on their way off their 4 hour
shift. they'd all been there about 40 hours straight.
the place is flooded with heavy light and crawling,
crawling with rescue workers. like an ashen, too brightly
lit human anthill. ALL the buildings in sight are deeply
damaged. skeletons of the two world trade center towers
stand - about five stories left out of 110. the remaining
105 stories imploded into the ground. hundreds of feet of
rubble and ash and corpses way below even the subway
level. it's all down there. they'll never be able to
bring all the bodies up.
like ants, the rescue workers clamored in the grossly
subterranean pits filled with rubble and markers for body
parts. we had to wear asbestos masks but the rescue
workers had gas masks. layers of asbestos ash covered us
within minutes. the fragments of the world trade center
facades remained standing like a 3-dimensional frank
stella painting. it looked like pictures i've seen of
hiroshima, if you want to know the truth.
stephen and i know these buildings and these streets so
intimately that we knew exactly where we were and what
everything used to look like and we could still feel,
amidst the shattering transformation, 'at home.' that was
an unexpected feeling.
concentrating on getting supplies to these heroes keeps
your mind busy, as service is meant to do. but suddenly,
about 150 cops and firefighters came running at us at
high speed, because the skyscraper on the block we were
standing on was presumed to be collapsing. the yelled and
dragged us with them
"RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN - FASTER FASTER DON'T STOP
DON'T STOP RUN RUN RUN!"
and i think both stephen and i felt that this was
probably 'it' but also that it was the right way to go.
one of the two endangered buildings believed to be
unstable was starting to crumble, as was the remaining
structure of one of the towers. i'm asthmatic and it's a
miracle i'm okay breathing wise but i am and that's a
miracle i decided to rely on.
i couldn't run anymore and the cops ran past me and we
were a few blocks away and safe. then a crowd of
firefighters ran the other direction, toward the presumed
collapse. we said 'it's falling'. they said 'they've been
saying that for three days" and ran back into the
fray. later, we heard reports of rescue workers taken to
emergency rooms because of this.
Somehow we escaped. we wanted to go back. we were
interviewed on tv.
all i can say about ground zero is that it makes the
movie "escape from new york" look like
"you've got mail."
we've been to the belly of hell. and there are hundreds
of angels working there, fully "delivered from the
bondage of self. " the word 'hero' feels like a big
we got back and tried to shower off all the asbestos..
the salvation army captain said we aren't supposed to eat
till we've taken at least three showers.
we're going back tomorrow at 8 a.m. the landscape of hell
has the content of home. too much true heroism is going
on there, round the clock, for those of us who can be of
some small use to stay away. serving these heroes is an
this damage is a lot worse than it appears on tv. the
financial district is in devastation. stephen said he
didn't think the attackers knew they'd cause this much
destruction. it's indescribable. i had no idea till i saw
it in person.
pray for the firefighters cops and rescue workers.
they're finding new and creative places to post the
american flag in the middle of hades.
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