On 9/11/2001 it was contained chaos in New York. Planes were not allowed in or out of the city for some time, so in essence, New Yorkers were left alone with the wreckage of the most tragic attack in American history.
Fortunately there were many Americans from all over the country that weren’t going to stand for that.
One of them was John Corr, a Pennsylvania wine dealer who drove up to the city to volunteer at Ground Zero on September 14th. He kept a journal of everything he saw, and one of the most interesting entries is about some of the dauntless citizen volunteers he met while he was there working for 10 days.
Corr was kind enough to share his writing with Business Insider, so you can read his thoughts on the people he encountered below:
There was the husband and wife team that left the Midwest even before the second plane hit and immediately set up their own clothing supply depot in the American Express building on West St (before it was even declared safe). When I first saw them there were long lines of fire fighters waiting to be fitted with Carharts and work boots from them. In the search and rescue on the pile with the hot sun and even hotter steel environments, the heavy coats and boots that the firefighters normally wore were not appropriate gear. And since many of the fireman refused to leave or break off the search, they needed the change of clothes right then and there. I can’t imagine how many fireman that husband and wife team outfitted in the first important days of the emergency. And they did it all with cell phone calls to outside donors and a 24/7 hustling service.
There were coal miners from Kentucky that I met on Saturday the 15th. They were very young men whose expertise was setting support posts and props in the many holes and caverns in the treacherous and constantly shifting pile of steel and iron. They were filthy, tired and a bit overwhelmed when I ran into them at the cafeteria at Public School 236.
There were construction workers and iron workers who were some of the first to show up and filled the ranks of the bucket brigades.
There were brigades of police cadets who came to work the bucket brigades. They came with just their uniforms and nothing else. We would spend hours outfitting them with helmets, masks, goggles and gloves as the work and safety regulations demanded it. Their appearance changed considerably upon their exit from GZ.
There were the legions of Hispanic works sent in to clean up the buildings surrounding GZ. Like the police cadets, they were totally without equipment (except for cleaning equipment) and it was downright criminal to send them into the toxic environment without helmets, masks etc. Many workers would exchange clothing upon exiting GZ. They didn’t want to bring contaminated clothing home with them.
There were Red Cross workers from all over the U.S. and the world and many physicians, nurses and hospital personnel.
There were the ubiquitous Salvation Army with their encouraging smiles and amazingly delicious mobile food stations.
There was a building demolition expert from North Carolina who sneaked into GZ and stayed for almost 4 months, becoming the volunteer expert-consultant on picking apart the tangled pile of steel safely and efficiently.
…And the above list is woefully inadequate in describing the thousands of people who made their mark on Ground Zero.