9-11

Kathy Campbell: A white powdery residue covered everything

By September 9, 2021 No Comments

I worked downtown, a few blocks away, and I could see the Towers from our office windows. I lived in New Jersey, and I was getting ready to leave for work when the first tower was hit. My husband told me to forget about going to work. We were glued to the TV as the awfulness unfolded. We had been to Windows on the World a week earlier.

I was on the phone to my father in Australia when the first tower came down and I remember screaming. Ironically, he told me to get on the next plane home. My husband worked for the federal prison system and had to go into work to take a truckload of supplies to the prison in Brooklyn. They were worried about the possibility of a riot, and things like water being cut off.

A friend who worked in the Towers was lucky to get out just before the Towers came down. Other friends lost loved ones. Everyone it seemed was impacted in some way.

When I did go back to work a few days later, there were flyers stuck everywhere – walls, lampposts, all over Penn Station – with pictures of the missing. The acrid burning smell was still overpowering, and a white powdery residue covered everything.

Everyone was dazed and shell shocked for I don’t know how long afterwards. I worked for Interview magazine and we decided to put out a special issue. I can remember staying late at night to get it all finished.

20 years later, and I still can’t think of those days without tearing up.