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E-mail from the scene

September 12, 2001

Bill Westmoreland, a Texarkana native now working in New York, sent this e-mail account of the World Trade Center attack to his sister Fran Keasler of Texarkana and other relatives to assure them of his safety Tuesday. He was five blocks away from the World Trade Center.

Hi all:

I'm home....

It was absolutely terrifying ... devastating. As I came out of the subway at 8:45 a.m., five blocks from the World Trade Center everyone was looking up and I saw paper flying through the air. I thought it was a parade and then I walked around the corner and saw the hole in the building. It was surreal.

I then went to the studio, which was on the 15th floor of a building facing the World Trade Center. When I got up there everyone was looking up at the building. It was so unreal. You could see part of the plane in the building and then within a few minutes there was a second plane went into the other tower. Debris was thrown everywhere and the building shook tremendously. One large piece of fiery debris shot across three blocks and landed God knows where. Now we were looking at both towers in flames. You could see people waving shirts or jackets as they hung out of higher floors. You could also see people jumping or falling.

I must have seen more than 20. As we watched this for about a half hour or more the streets below were filled with people running away from the site, and then--without warning--the south tower collapsed and a rolling cloud of smoke and ash about seven stories tall raced up the street at record speed covering everything and everyone. It looked like a nuclear explosion. We turned off the air conditioning and made sure all windows were closed.

Soon the fire dept ordered an evacuation of the building so we all walked down 15 flights..(I was doing a shoot for Target and we had toddlers/mothers/strollers.) As we got to the first floor and were about to exit the second tower collapsed we heard the rumbling explosion again and we all ran back into the area behind the elevators on the first floor. The glass doors on the front of the lobby were instantly covered in soot and ash and dust and the sky went BLACK. We thought that our building was in danger of receiving falling debris being so close.

Later the dust settled and the superintendent of the building gave us all wet hand towels to tie around our nose and mouth. Soon we left and walked through three blocks of dust and up through the police barracades into the millions of people that were now roaming the city. Trains, subways, bridges, tunnels, everything was closed, so we all walked north to get out of the area.

And now I'm home and safe — I hope.




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