Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
Twenty years ago today, Andree Marshall was buying airline tickets on the ground floor of the World Trade Center in the North Tower. At the same time, Lynne Christian was in the same building having lunch. At 12:18, their worlds changed.
“The ground shook, the windows broke out, no one knew what happened, we just saw a lot of black soot coming from the vents,” Marshall said.
Christian was in the cafeteria overlooking Tobin Plaza.
“I could see all these woman in pink uniforms coming out of one building and going into another, I thought it rather odd they didn’t have coats on,” Christian said.
Both women survived the first World Trade Center bombing that killed six and injured more than 1,000. They again found themselves at Ground Zero on September 11.
Christian’s take after the first attack was almost prophetic.
“I just though that New York was going to become a target a lot more frequently,” she said. “There was always some sort of crazy activity going on in New York and this was the beginning of it.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who was the city’s top cop at the time, told WNYC on Tuesday that many New Yorkers fell into a false sense of security after the 1993 bombing, first by underestimating the terrorists and second because of their quick apprehension.
“We didn’t see this as part of worldwide ideological movement,” said Kelly, speaking on the Brian Lehrer Show. It should have been a “wake-up call” that changed policing, he said.
Marshall was pregnant with twins on September 11, 2001. She was in Duane Reade in the North Tower when the plane struck. That day, she eventually made her way home and delivered her children a few weeks later.
But two months later, a third disaster befell her: An American Airlines plan crashed next to her home minutes after take off.
“That’s when I really flipped out,” she said. “My thought was somebody’s coming after me and they keep missing me wherever I go. My mom’s like ‘Honey, no one’s coming after you, that’s how life is.’”
(Photo: Andree Marshall and her twins, Andree and Aiden Collaren, both 11. Courtesy of family)
Marshall wishes she could leave the city and move to the Midwest, but due to stipulations in her divorce, she says she can’t leave the tri-state area.
Christian, who had already bought a home in Arizona prior to September 11, decided to retire early. She packed her Ford Escape, and left four months later. In Arizona, where she remains today, she helped raise funds for a 9/11 Memorial.
The memories of the attacks remain vivid for both, but neither plans to commemorate this anniversary.