“102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Flight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers”: P. 195

Self has slowed down her reading of this book considerably.  Just before going to bed last night, she read a little more, and stopped at p. 195. Then she had her first uninterrupted six hours of sleep in a long time. When she awoke, she called Dearest Mum who, considering that she’d just flown to Tel Aviv, spent a few days there, and flown straight back, was surprisingly calm.  Dearest Mum told self that she was still looking for a container in which to put part of Ying’s ashes:  Ying had requested that some of her ashes be brought to the Buddhist temple in Bangkok where her parents are buried.  Self is so relieved that Dearest Mum delivers this information without comment; her aunts here were so adamant about Ying being baptized before she died, self imagines they would have something to say about the Buddhist temple bit.  But perhaps, self thinks, it is because Ying was a Buddhist that she and self got along so well.  Truly, self has never known anyone, Christian or not, who was as kind and humble as her sister-in-law.

Self has many lessons to prepare for the coming week, so it’s well past the lunch hour by the time she resumes reading 102 Minutes:  The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers.  In the book, it’s 9:30 a.m. on September 11, 2001, and the layout of the south towers is inclining inexorably towards tragedy.

Self learns of four companies that had employees in the uppermost floors of the south tower: Keefe, Bruyette & Woods; Sandler O’Neill, a trading firm; Aon; and Fiduciary Trust.

At 9:30 a.m. on September 11, 2001, sixty-seven employees of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods were still alive on the 88th and 89th floors. There were eighty-seven employees of Sandler O’Neill who had reported to work that day, and of these only 20 had managed to leave the building. Aon had 176 still inside. The daughter of the man who had helped build the trade center’s Otis elevators was trapped on the 97th floor. The woman called her husband, who worked at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The husband called the school’s security and engineering staff for advice on what his wife should do. Hit the sprinklers, they said. Use a shoe, anything.

A man named Shimmy Biegeleisen, trapped on the 97th floor, was sharing a phone with others in his office. They had managed to plug the phone into the back of a computer, “bypassing the central phone systems that relied on the building’s electrical power.” At this point, dear blog readers, the narrative becomes acute: “In the first several phone calls,” Biegeleisen “had been calm, but as the smoke advanced, his messages sharpened in focus.” He passed the phone to a colleague, Ed McNally, who called his wife. McNally told his wife: “I booked a trip to Rome. Liz, you have to cancel that.”

Self looks up the companies on Wikipedia:

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods is still around.

Sandler O’Neill’s listing says simply:

Sandler O’Neill and Partners was located on the 104th floor of Two World Trade Center. It lost 66 of its 180 employees in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

The entry is followed by a list of the employees who lost their lives that day.

Aon has created a website to commemmorate the tragedy, and so has Fiduciary Trust.

A number of calls to 911 were logged from various parts of the south tower, even as late as an hour after the second plane hit, indicating the presence of survivors.  Calls were placed from the following areas:

  • 82nd floor, west side
  • 88th floor
  • 73rd floor, west side
  • 10th floor, east side
  • 47th floor
  • 73rd floor, west office
  • 83rd floor, room 8-3-0-0
  • 80th floor, northwest

Things could have been much worse, however:  Self learns that Morgan Stanley had 2,700 people scattered between the 44th and 74th floors of the south tower.  But due to the dogged efforts of a Morgan Stanley director of security named Rick Rescorla, who directed an orderly mass evacuation, “all but a handful” managed to escape.

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