September 11 Digital Archive

A D D   Y O U R   S T O R Y
Contribute to the historical record

S E A R C H   S T O R I E S
S T O R Y   C O L L E C T I O N S
Collections of stories from
groups and individuals

Go to the main page of the
September 11 Digital Archive

Still Images
Moving Images
Guide to Websites

Stories of September 11

Contributed by: Edward McCabe
Contributor's location on 9/11: sub basement 4 in 1 wtc
Contributed on: July 25, 2002

I was in the refrigeration plant in tower 1 sub basement 4.I was passing through when I felt a slight shifting of the building.I froze right where I stood and listened....nothing.. about 30 seconds past and to my left about 30 feet from me was a stairway leading up to a door. this door explodes off its hinges and white smoke came into the plant.I later on found out the reason there was an explosion was the jet fuel filled the elevator shaft and seconds later a spark triggered an explosion.i stood at the bottom of this staircase wondering what happened.seconds later through the smoke came people who worked beyond that door for the construction company.they were all secrataries,they walked like zombies not speaking I can smell their burnt was bleeding pretty bad and i started to walk her to path train station accross the plant.1 woman seemed unharmed and i asked her what happened..she told me a bomb blew up their offices.when we got to the PATH platform i layed the woman down ,she thanked me,and i returned to the blown door to see if i could find anyone else.Sure enough there were more,.the smoke was being sucked up the shaft now and i can see there were no longer any walls just rubble.1 woman was under her desk refusing to come out.after a little coaxing she came and at this point a few of my colleuges,were sifting through the rubble,trying to find anybody .we did about 3 trips .everyone was out.i returned to the plant and called for ems on the radio(walky talky),I couldn't get through there was chaos on the radio.I switched on the am radio we had in the plant to the all news station and heard "ONCE AGAIN A PLANE HAS HIT THE86FLOOR OF ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER".my heart sunk.I said to my self lets get the fuck outta here.i started running towards the area where we had brought the injured when i see about 9 fire men running my way.they approached me an asked "where are we getting all these people from." I told them over there pointing about 25yards away to the staircase with the blown door.they asked me to show them exactly where and I told them "there is no one left lets get the hell outta here",they told me to calm down and lead them to the offices beyond the blown door.I said "ok lets do this " so we start running for the stairs as we started to ascend the lights went out just the little exit signs over the doors were illuminated.I started to panic .(I found out later on the lights were lost when the second plane hit.)not one of the firemen had a freakin flashlight ,I couldn't believe it ,i guess in all this chaos they forgot them.the firemen in charge said to me,"wait here we will be right back",and just like that they all ran back the way they came .Not 1 of them stayed behind.I stood there at the bottom of those stairs scared shitless ,in the dark ,listening to the eery sound of the smoke sucking up that elevator shaft.Maybe a minute passed when I said to myself "what am I a fuckin' idiot."and proceeded to run past the area where we brought the injured in path station,EMS was taking care of them and for that i was thankfull.I noticed the owner of the deli/restaurant bar was locking himself in . I guess to guard from looters.the escalator leading up to the concourse level was (believe it or not )running.AT this point i stopped and rode the escalator up. Catching my breath,when i reached the top I noticed everyone was evacuating in a calm and orderly fashion.I started to feel a little more at ease.i ran up another out of order escalator to the plaza level and started running towards daylight i noticed debris coming I got closer I realized there were people hitting the ground exploding on impact among office furniture and luggage i was sickened by the sight.I waited for a lull and ran for it out the doors to the open air it was chaos fire engines all over people screaming.i looked up and saw both towers on fire,i couldn't believe my eyes .people were jumping ,I saw a couple holding hands freefalling from at least the 90 -95th floors.I ran to broadway and watched from there i still was in shock,when over the walky talky my supervisor makes a general announcement "all WTC mechanical personnel rally at the pump station".I start running back towards the pump station which is up the block accross from 1 i pass 1wtc people are still hitting the ground ,i'll never forget the sound. when i arrive everyones hugging and happy to see each other .i lean up against the wall and slide down on my ass and look up at the towers burning people still jumping.
i will finish this some other time i'm emotionally drained just writing this..God Bless

Edward J McCabe Engineer
October 1987-september 11th 2001

Cite as: Edward McCabe, Story #936, The September 11 Digital Archive, 25 July 2002, <>.
Archival Information: 932 words, 4786 characters
How do I know that this item is factual?