We Will Not Forget
A Day of Terror
September 11th, 2001 dawned in New York as a crystal clear day - a perfect
day. Throughout the city, Stationary Engineers were readying their buildings
for the Tuesday morning influx of tenants. Everything and everyone was at the
city's normal hastened pace. None knew that within just a few hours, their
city and the lives of everyone within would never again be the same.
Mike Pecoraro helped hundreds to escape only to find himself trapped and staring death in the face.
Joe Shearin managed to override an overhead garage door mechanism, saving trapped occupants from certain death.
Mike Pecoraro had gotten up from bed at 4 a.m. to make his normal 2 hour commute
from his Long Island home to the World Trade Center, where he worked as a Stationary
Engineer on a roving crew that serviced all of the buildings at the com plex.
The 36 year-old father of two stopped and bought breakfast on the way into One
World Trade Center and changed into his work clothes. At about 6:45 he went
to the mechanical shop in the second subbasement, ate his breakfast and chatted
with his co-workers who were also arriving for the normal 8:00 a.m. beginning
of their shift. Mike's assignment that day would be to continue constructing
a gantry that would be used to pull the heads from the 2,500 ton chillers, located
in the 6th sub- basement level of the tower. 49,000 tons of refrigeration equipment
were located in the lower level of the tower. The 2,500 ton units were the smallest
Donning his hearing protection, respirator, gloves and eye protection, Mike,
along with another engineer, began the work day using a large grinder to smooth
down the welds on steel they were using for the gantry. Deep underground, in
an area surrounded by solid bedrock, the noise made by the grinder reverberated
from the walls as sparks flew from the spinning grinding wheel.
Tom Hart reaches out even today to assist survivors deeply hurt by the World Trade Center attack.
High above in the management office, on the 88th floor of the tower, John Griffin,
Jr., the father of two and the new Director of Operations at the World Trade
Center, was also beginning his day. John had been hired by the buildings'
owners, Silverstein Company, just two months earlier. The son of an Engineer,
John seemed born to the job and by all account was more than capable of shouldering
the challenge of running one of the largest buildings in the
world. John worked with Charles "Charlie" Magee, the Chief Engineer
at the Center. Along with the 35 other employees who made up the management
staff of the World Trade Center, they began their day high above the bustling
city, managing what was a city within the city.
Paula Daly works each day to help survivors suffering the emotional trauma of September 11th.
Joe Shearin, the 36 year-old Assistant Chief Engineer at the World Trade Center,
began his day by distributing work orders to his crew. The father of a 2 year-old
daughter, Joe loved nothing more than the work he did and the place he worked.
His best friend, Vito Deleo, another Stationary Engineer, worked with him. The
two were all but inseparable. They worked together almost every day. It was
generally accepted by all who worked on the
Mike Carney, President and Business Manager of IUOE Local 94, continues to lead his Local through its darkest hour.
maintenance staff that if they saw one, the other had to be close by.
That morning a note had been left for Joe by the Chief Engineer of the midnight
to 8 a.m. shift telling him that a tenant on the 38th floor wanted to see him
as early as possible. So after distributing the work orders to his staff, he
entered one of the tower's elevator cars and headed up into the building.
John Griffin, Sr. sadly related the final moments of his son's life to the Chief Engineer.
September 11, 2001, two hijacked commercial aircraft are flown into the World Trade Center towers.
Deep below the tower, Mike Pecoraro was suddenly interrupted in his grinding
task by a shake on his shoulder from his co-worker. "Did you see that?"
he was asked. Mike told him that he had seen nothing. "You didn't
see the lights flicker?", his co-worker asked again. "No,"
Mike responded, but he knew immediately that if the lights had flickered, it
could spell trouble. A power surge or interruption could play havoc with the
building's equipment. If all the pumps trip out or pulse meters trip,
it could make for a very long day bringing the entire center's equipment
Mike told his co-worker to call upstairs to their Assistant Chief Engineer
and find out if everything was all right. His co-worker made the call and reported
back to Mike that he was told that the Assistant Chief did not know what happened
but that the whole building seemed to shake and there was a loud explosion.
They had been told to stay where they were and "sit tight" until
the Assistant Chief got back to them. By this time, however, the room they were
working in began to fill with a white smoke. "We smelled kerosene,"
Mike recalled, "I was thinking maybe a car fire was upstairs", referring
to the parking garage located below grade in the tower but above the deep space
where they were working.
McGinley, an Engineer at the WTC was on the 56th floor of Building 2
when the attack occurred. Today he has trouble working in buildings
taller than ten stories.
The two decided to ascend the stairs to the C level, to a small machine shop
where Vito Deleo and David Williams were supposed to be working. When the two
arrived at the C level, they found the machine shop gone.
"There was nothing there but rubble, "Mike said. "We're
talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press ? gone!" The two began yelling
for their co-workers, but there was no answer. They saw a perfect line of smoke
streaming through the air. "You could stand here," he said, "and
two inches over you couldn't breathe. We couldn't see through the
smoke so we started screaming." But there was still no answer.
Sergei Siletzky was a helper at WTC. At the time of the attack, he was attending class at Local 94.
The two made their way to the parking garage, but found that it, too, was
gone. "There were no walls, there was rubble on the floor, and you can't
see anything" he said.
They decided to ascend two more levels to the building's lobby. As they
ascended to the B Level, one floor above, they were astonished to see a steel
and concrete fire door that weighed about 300 pounds, wrinkled up "like
a piece of aluminum foil" and lying on the floor. "They got us again,"
Mike told his co-worker, referring to the terrorist attack at the center in
1993. Having been through that bombing, Mike recalled seeing similar things
happen to the building's structure. He was convinced a bomb had gone off
in the building. Mike walked through the open doorway and found two people lying
on the floor. One was a female Carpenter and the other an Elevator Operator.
They were both badly burned and injured. Realizing he had to get help, Mike
ascended to the Lobby Level where he met Arti DelBianco, a member of his work
crew. People were now coming down the same stairway from above the lobby and
Arti and Mike had to stay where they were to direct people out of the stairway
door and into the building's lobby. If they didn't, people descending
could walk past the lobby door and unwittingly keep descending into the sublevels
of the building.
Tate, an engineer who rushed to the World Trade Center, discovered
trapped firefighters in the ruins and summoned the help which saved
On the 38th floor, Joe Shearin exited the elevator and began his walk down
the hallway to meet with the tenant who had requested to see him. About 50 feet
down the hallway, he heard a loud explosion and was lifted into the air. "I
can't even tell you how far I traveled," he recalled. When he landed,
people were already coming out of their offices into the hallway. "They
were screaming, hollering," he said. "They were asking what they
should do and where they should go". Joe directed them down the stairwells
and out of the building.
Brown, Assistant Business Manager of Local 94, directed the union's
response in the initial hours following the World Trade Center attack.
What Joe first believed was that an equipment room on the 43rd floor, which
had an electrical substation, had blown up. He proceeded up the 5 floors to
that level. Upon reaching the 43rd floor, "there were patches of ceiling
that was just down on the floor, water pipes were broken, water was gushing
like a brook or river that was just running down the corridor of the machine
room". He began yelling to see if anyone was in the room and received
Stunned by the sudden collapse of the towers, survivors made their way to safety through an enormous dest cloud.
He made his way to one of the tower's stairways and began the walk down
to the lobby. "When I came down the stairwell (to the lobby level) and
I looked toward West Street, I just couldn't believe what I saw,"
he recalled. "There was glass and people cut, covered in blood".
Making his way out of the building, he found debris falling from the top of
the building. Still not understanding or knowing what had happened, he made
his way back to re-enter the building. As he went around the west wall he saw
two people. "They were pretty?I never seen anything like that before,"
he said, his voice choking from the pain of seeing it again in his memory. "This
individual, she was that badly burned, but she was still alive," he managed.
James Berg, who represents employers on the Local 94 Board, came immediately to the aid of members impacted by the attack.
In the Management Office on the 88th floor, the scope of the catastrophe was
more evident. John Griffin Jr. and Charlie Magee also thought at first that
an electrical substation had blown up. The force of the explosion lifted furnishing
into the air. One desk had flown up and landed five feet away. The falling debris
and furnishings blocked access to the stairwells. The room began to fill with
smoke. John, Charlie and others began to break out windows to get air into the
Pizzo, an engineer for Lee Technologies near the WTC, laid on his back
on the roof of his building for two and one-half hours keeping
condenser coils from clogging and jeopardizing the hi-tech equipment
inside the facility.
They realized they had to escape and managed to clear a way to a stairwell.
They made certain that they had all the occupants from the floor together and
then began the long descent down the stairwell.
Ralph Urizzo, an engineer and National Guard member, was activated and sent to the World Trade Center on September 11th.
On the way down the stairwell, John kept talking to his co-workers, keeping
them calm as they made their way down. They began to meet firemen coming up
the stairs, so some congestion started within the stairwell. At each level,
other building occupants were streaming into the stairwell and the group of
35 from the Management office became separated by the mass of people trying
to leave the building.
Raymond Macco, Delegate for Local 94, helped to account for some of the 150 engineers initially missing after the attack.
No one ever saw John Griffin Jr. or Charlie Magee after that. If they did make
it to the first floor, they would have immediately joined the fire command personnel.
They would not have left the building.
All that was ever recovered of John Griffin Jr. was one credit card, bearing
Mike and Arti stayed in the stairwell at the first floor of the
tower directing people through the doors. People flooded the stairwell and a
great amount of water was also streaming steadily down the stairs. Describing
the people coming down Mike said: "Some were burnt, some cut, some screaming,
some fine; like there was nothing going on".
Brian Muller, an engineer in Building 4 of the World Trade Center, was left with deep emotional scars from his experience.
"Literally thousands of people came by us down those stairs," Mike
said. At one point, an engineer had to run down the stairs to bring some tenants
who had inadvertently passed the first floor, back up to the lobby level.
The smoke in the stairwell was constant and at one point, Mike told Arti that
he was going to catch a quick breath of fresh air. He walked out into the main
lobby of the building, seeing it for the first time.
"When I walked out into the lobby, it was incredible," he recalled.
"The whole lobby was soot and black, elevator doors were missing. The
marble was missing off some of the walls. 20-foot section of marble, 20 by 10
foot sections of marble, gone from the walls". The west windows were all
gone. They were missing. These are tremendous windows. They were just gone.
Broken glass everywhere, the revolving doors were all broken and their glass
was gone. Every sprinkler head was going off. I am thinking to myself, how are
these sprinkler heads going off? It takes a lot of heat to set off a sprinkler
head. It never dawned on me that there was a giant fireball that came through
the air of the lobby. I never knew that until later on. The jet fuel actually
came down the elevator shaft, blew off all the (elevator) doors and flames rolled
through the lobby. That explained all the burnt people and why everything was
sooted in the lobby."
Spotting someone from the New York Port Authority, Mike asked him what had happened.
He told Mike that a helicopter had struck the building. Mike immediately thought
the helicopter must have struck at or near the lobby level. He made his way
back to the stairwell and told Arti what he had found.
"Arti, I think we better get out of here," Mike recalled telling
him. "If something falls on us here, we are done."
They decided to try and re-group with the other Engineers and together left
the stairwell. There were hundreds of firemen on the scene by then. "Everything
was chaotic," he said. "People were running in every direction.
People were on the mezzanine. The second floor had a ledge that went all the
way around the inside of the building's lobby. It was packed with people
that were coming out of all the other stairwells".
Joe Shearin had managed to make his way on to West Street where he met an Emergency
Medical truck that had just pulled up. He asked the technician if he could help
the burned women he had seen and the technician told him to help by carrying
equipment into the tower. Joe filled his arms and accompanied the technician
into the building and stayed with them, and helped take the woman to the ambulance
Lanzillotto, Chief Engineer for Merril Lynch at the World Financial
Center, safely evacuated his building then worked 24-hour shifts to
bring his building back into service.
Upon re-entering the building, Joe started to hear a rumbling sound. "I
knew what was happening," he said. "That was Two World Trade Center
starting to come down". He entered one of the elevators that serviced
the lobby floor and below and rode it down to where the mechanical shop office
was located. His plan was to make certain everyone he worked with was out of
the building and then exit the building through the parking garage.
Entering the mechanical shop office, he found two people inside and yelled for
them to get out. He then went to the parking garage and towards the doors that
led out to West Street.
"I could see people up against the rollup doors, banging on the doors
and stuff like that". Seeing his building uniform, they yelled at Joe
to help open the door. Joe moved quickly to the door operating mechanism and
managed to put it into manual mode. Opening the door, they all fled into the
air above as 2 World Trade Center crashed down around them.
Mike Pecoraro and Arti made their way out of Tower One and went to Tower Two.
They encountered a crowd of people standing outside the tower, not knowing what
had happened. Apparently, they had witnessed a fireball come through the lobby
after the second airplane had struck that tower, but they were entering directly
from the subway underground and had as yet, no idea of what was happening. Mike
and Arti told them all to leave and go home. They then made their way to 4 World
Trade Center where they encountered a guard who initially was refusing to leave
her post. "Just go home," Mike told her. "You don't
have a job, it's done". Reluctantly, the guard left and walked towards
the north side of the complex.
the dust cleared, the full scope of the devastation began to reveal
itself. The loss of police, firefighters and equipment was
unprecedented in American history.
Still believing that a helicopter had struck the tower, Mike finally learned
the truth when two female police officers informed him of the jetliners. Feeling
that they were not doing enough, the two decided to go back to One World Trade
Center to see what they could do to help and to take another look in the 4th
subbasement for Vito Deleo and David Williams.
A search of the subbasements again turned up no one. The building at this point
almost seemed empty. A telephone was ringing in one of the shops. Mike answered
it and found a tenant on the other end requesting that the heat be turned off
in their office.
"I just shook my head and hung the phone up," he said. He wanted
to call his wife and tell her that he was okay, but could not get through on
the line. He finally managed to reach his wife's employer and asked her
to relay a message to his wife that he was all right.
Mike and Arti then decided to make their way to the Pump House which was located
away from the buildings at the far end of the complex. The World Trade Center
used water from the river for their condenser needs. This water was pumped through
a 60 inch main, fed by large pumps located in the Pump House, near the river.
Their walk there would take them again through 2 World Trade Center.
No sooner had the two reached Tower 2 when Mike stopped and turned to Arti.
"I have a bad feeling," he told Arti. " I don't know
what's in there, but I know what's back there," he said indicating
Tower 1 where they were. The two decided to go back to 1 World Trade Center,
cut through the lobby and make their way around the complex using a different,
longer route to the Pump House.
When they re-entered Tower 1, they saw more people coming down the same stairwell
where they had earlier been assisting. "They were more hurt, more burnt,
more tired," he said. They helped them exit the building asking each if
there was anyone up the stairs that needed assistance. "We'll just
run up and we'll grab them and get them out," he told them. But
each person reported that there was no one in the stairwell that they had passed.
Finally, a Port Authority worker descended the stairwell. They asked him if
there was anyone left up in the building. The man said nothing, just shook his
head and exited the building.
Mike and Arti decided it was time to leave as well. They left the stairwell
and re-entered the lobby. As they walked to the exit, they heard a roar and
the floor began to shake.
"Banging so hard that we fell down on our knees," he said. "I'm
looking south, at the building, Arti's looking at me, we locked eyes and
he is screaming at the top of his lungs...I can barely hear this guy. He's
screaming, "What the f? is that?", and I am screaming back
at him, that I think it's another plane".
In reality, as the two were kneeling in the lobby of 1 World Trade Center, its
sister building, 2 World Trade Center, was crashing down upon them.
"The building was just bouncing and bouncing, the floor was bouncing.
I figured another plane already hit the building". Mike related. "I'm
looking ahead and I see all the windows, either three story tall windows or
four story tall windows, 10 feet wide; shatter. All of them broke at the same
time. All the glass flew over my head. I'm looking up, on my knees, with
my hands on the floor, and I saw all that glass. You're talking glass
three inches thick, go right over our heads. I saw that some of the firemen
who was standing on the perimeter (mezzanine) was blown right off the top. They
just flew over the top. I can't put a number on it, maybe ten. Bunch of
firemen were guarding doors there. They got blown off. Don't know where
they went. I saw pieces of debris as big as cars go right over my head without
stopping. Like a line drive right over my head," he said, raising his
hand to indicate an approximate 4 foot level.
"I put my head down, put my hands over my head. I still had gloves in
my hand. I put the gloves over my head and there was a wind that came through
the revolving doors that blew me?100 feet to the far wall, right by the
visitor's desk. The floor was covered with sheetrock (powdered) and water
so it was like a soup. It was very slippery".
"You couldn't see anything now. There was dust in the room. My eyes
were covered with dust and debris. I got hit in the back of the head with something
so hard I fractured my elbow on the floor. Something stuck in the back of my
calf and I just got beat all over the left side of my body. Then the building
started bouncing even harder. So hard it was lifting me off the floor, bouncing
me on the floor".
"I had somebody fall on top of me. That freaked me out. I kicked that
person off me because I didn't want them on me. And then it just stopped.
It was dead quiet. There was no sound except this hissing sound coming from?
I believe it was steam pipes, at the edge of One World Trade Center. There was
no people, no sounds, there was just quiet. I was alive!"
"I still had my flashlight in my holder, my walkie-talkie was split in
half. I couldn't call anybody. I turned the flashlight on, people jumped
all over me, that must have been standing right next to me. I don't know
who they were. All they wanted was help. How do we get out? I turned the flashlight
off and put it back in my holder because it didn't do a damn thing (within
the thick dust) and I told them, just follow me. I told them I was an engineer
in the building, I think I know where I am, follow me out, we're gonna
give it a try. There was pandemonium. Nobody would listen to me. They just left.
I don't know where they went or who they were".
Mike was having trouble breathing in the thick dust. He cut a piece of cloth
from his T-shirt and put it over his face. Arti was nowhere around him. He couldn't
hear him and certainly couldn't see him. Mike heard a sound near him in
the dust. He crawled towards the sound. The sound was coming from a fireman
lying on the floor near him. Some type of alarm was apparently triggered on
the fireman's air pack. Mike tried to wake the fireman, but there was
no response. He tried to get to the fireman's air pack and mask but could
not see through the dust how to remove it or get to the air he so desperately
In desperation, Mike grabbed the fireman's coat, relit his flashlight
and began dragging the unconscious fireman out of the building. "He was
easy to drag," Mike said. "the floor was so slippery". He
moved in the direction he thought was out, but he was wrong. If Mike had turned
left, he would have easily exited the lobby. But, blinded by the dust and disoriented
from the pounding he had received, he turned right and was forced to travel
three-quarters of the distance of the building before finally reaching a door.
Along the way, another fireman came out of the dust and grabbed at Mike. "Who
are you?" he yelled. Mike told him he was an engineer in the building.
The fireman replied: "Good; how do we get the hell out of here?"
Mike replied: "I'm not really sure. I thought this was the way out
and now I'm not sure".
More firemen appeared through the dust, they grabbed the unconscious fireman
who Mike was dragging and said "let's go!" Slowly moving through
the thick cloud, Mike led the fireman through the lobby. "There was piles
of stuff on the floor," he said. "I don't know what it was.
There were people on the floor we were falling over". Somehow, Mike managed
to lead them to the South Entrance of the tower to a door which led to the Marriott
Hotel. Debris blocked all of the doors from the building. The men managed to
move through broken windows to the outside. "That's when we started
to hear people hitting the ground," Mike said.
In a state of shock, Mike and the firemen watched as bodies struck the ground
in front of them. "They were just bouncing off the ground right in
front of us," he said, emotion filling his voice. "I saw people
jumping before I came back in to the building," he said. "They were
jumping, about one every minute, maybe every two minutes. Now you're talking
one every five seconds hitting the ground".
"I said this is bullshit. Whatever the hell that was, I lived through
that, and now I'm going to get killed by some guy jumping out of the building?
You could hear them. You could hear them hitting the ground. It was like nothing
you ever heard before. It was a very hollow, soft sound. And you knew exactly
what it was. They must have seen the other building come down and just mass
exited the building".
A fireman grabbed Mike and said, "You know what you're going to
do? You're going to start running and you're going to hit the wall
in front of the building. One way or another, you're going to keep running!"
Mike told the fireman, "all right", and made a break from the building.
"I made it about four feet out the front of the building and I fell over
somebody that was on the ground," Mike said. Scrambling back to his feet
he contin-ued a dash through the dust towards the outside. "When I tell
you the stuff (dust) on the street was a foot deep, that's conservative.
I'd say over a foot deep. It was like walking through a blizzard of snow".
Mike ran north and suddenly found himself out of the dust cloud. He saw fireman
and fire trucks lined up the street. Finally, he could breathe. The firemen
who had been with him stayed in the building; perhaps to regroup. Mike never
found out or saw them again.
Mike continued walking north, one block, then another. Eventually he reached
a small garden intersection where, sitting on a bench, he found Arti.
Throughout the day, they walked through the dust and debris. Stunned and speechless,
they made their way as if by instinct, to the one place they knew they would
be all right.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 94, resides in a small
building a few blocks from Times Square on West 44th Street. The gray stone
building is home to 6,000 Stationary Engineers who work in the City of New York.
The union is managed and led by Mike Carney, the President and Business Manager.
Unfortunately, on September 11th, Carney was in Seattle, Washington attending
a labor union conference. When he first heard the news of what was taking place
back home in New York, he frantically tried to book the next flight out of Seattle,
but by then the government of the United States had made the unprecedented decision
to ground all non-military aircraft flying to, or over the country.
94 employees Renay Carrozza (top, a claims supervisor, and Jillian
Farrugia, a benefits clerical worker, gave comfort to the engineers who
made their way to the union hall on September 11th.
As members straggled into their union hall, they were immediately met by the
staff working there. "They just kept coming," said Jillian Farragia,
a Benefits Clerical Worker at the union. "Some were upstairs; some were
downstairs in the engineering building. They came straight here. They waited.
as more people came. They couldn't believe. They were in shock".
From the moment the news had broken of what was taking place at the World Trade
Center, the phones at the union began to ring. Wives, husbands, fathers, mothers
and children were calling, hoping for news of their loved one. The Delegates
(Union Business Agents) immediately went into action compiling a list of all
missing engineers. Kuba Brown, the Assistant Business Manager issued directives
which brought food into the union hall and provided private areas for the members
to gather and console each other.
damage to buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center was extensive,
resulting in the necessary demolition of several of them.
A list of approximately 150 names was compiled of engineers who had yet to be
found. These were engineers who were seen entering a building at or near the
World Trade Center, but not seen leaving. The Delegates started phone calling
every member who worked in the area to see if they had seen anyone on the list.
Next, delegates fanned out through the city visiting every triage center, hospital
and eventually, every temporary morgue.
Working throughout the night, by 7 o'clock the next morning, they had
found everyone on the list except four; John Griffin Jr., Charlie Magee, Vito
Deleo and David Williams.
The streets of New York were nearly empty except for debris in the hours following the attack.
In the days that passed, the Union was in mourning for the loss of her four
sons. But other problems began to arise. Problems that could imperil the Union
and would eventually test to the limit, the unity and leadership of Local 94.
Mike Carney had directed operations with a telephone attached to his ear for
the first several days. When flight restrictions were finally lifted, he raced
to New York.
Costello, a delegate with Local 94, and Arthur J. Orzano (below),
Training Fund Administrator with Local 94, assisted in the search for
Initially confronting Carney was the terrible loss of the four union members
and the need to care for their families not only during their period of grieving,
but into the future as well. A second problem confronting Carney was that as
a consequence of September 11th and the loss of the 7 buildings that made up
the World Trade Center, 150 members of the Union were effectively without jobs.
Miraculously, the second problem nearly solved itself. According to Carney,
employers began to call the union hall. "We'll take 3" or
"we'll take 5" the callers would say, referring to the hiring
of engineers left jobless. "I cannot say enough about the employers,"
Carney said. "From all over the city, they simply stepped forward, looking
for ways to help".
Ramirez was a helper at the World Trade Center. Since the attack he has
yet to find permanent employment. His car has been repossessed and he
is being evicted from his apartment.
The first problem was also soon solved. Local 94 is just one Local Union in
the mighty International Union of Operating Engineers. Under the leadership
of the Union's General President, Frank Hanley, local unions and their
combined membership of over 400,000 men and women from throughout the United
States and Canada stepped forward to offer help, contributions and support.
Other organizations and associations joined in as well. The Chief Engineers
Association in Chicago donated $10,000 to Local 94, for support of their membership
and families. Chicago's IUOE, Local 399, established a fund to help the
engineers and families in New York.
In the early hours rescue workers combed through the debris in a despaerate search for survivors.
A third problem encountered, was far more difficult to surmount. Local 94, like
most local unions, provides for the medical insurance coverage of their membership.
They operate, in effect, a small insurance company for their membership and
their members' families.
All insurance companies work on the theory that only a given percentage of their
insured parties will file claims at any given time. So for example, if everyone
who was insured by State Farm Insurance Company, Allstate Insurance, or any
other insurance company were to file an insurance claim at exactly the same
time, these companies may not have the funds on hand to immediately administer
to every claim.
Federal Building, adjacent to the World Trade Center site, is presently
being repaired with the able assistance of its Local 94 engineering
Yet this is exactly what happened to Local 94.
Besides the physical maladies inflicted upon some Stationary Engineers from
the devastation that occurred at the World Trade Center, nearly every member
and each of their family members were traumatized by the event.
"We had children begging their father or mother to not go to work,"
said Tom Hart, Safety Officer at Local 94. "All they knew was that terrorists
had targeted a building and their mother or father worked in a large building".
Wives and husbands of engineers were also showing signs of traumatic stress.
"When I accepted a job downtown," Mike Pecoraro, a survivor of the
World Trade Center told us, "my wife broke down and started crying. She
didn't want me working in another building".
Tom Hart and Gerald Tate both assisted at Ground Zero in recovery efforts.
Engineers were also manifesting signs of illness. According to Tom Hart, some
engineers who survived the devastation refused to go back to work. "They
just told us to never call them again. They never want to work as an Engineer
again," Hart said. "Some locked themselves in their bedrooms, never
getting up from bed," he concluded.
Faced with this unprecedented problem, and faced with the staggering financial
liability that confronted the Local Union's health insurance program,
Mike Carney called all the Trustees of the Health and Welfare department into
Once again, Local 94 seemed blessed. The Trustees, comprised of employers and
union members, not only approved coverage for all members, but they took the
nearly unbelievable step of increasing coverage to pay one-hundred percent of
the mental health needs of all members and all of their family members!
The World Trade Center site as seen today.
In addition, the New York City Central Labor Council, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO,
stepped forward with trained counselors to offer assistance to those in need.
Paula Daly, a Coordinator with the Labor Rehab Council, related how on the very
night of September 11th, the Central Labor Council was having telephone lines
installed. By morning, 11 lines were open with a toll free number for a crisis
hotline that was established. Under the leadership of Van Jones and Brian McLaughlin,
labor unions from throughout the East Coast were contacted and came to New York
to help. Offices were constructed and calls were being taken from people asking
for help in finding a family member.
"By the afternoon of the 12th," Paula told us, "we were doing
critical stress debriefing. At every union we got the same response,"
she related, "which was: I don't think they can make it over to
you, can you come here?" And according to Paula, that is exactly what
they did. Reaching out to help, the New York Psychological Association and the
Institute for Temporary Psychotherapy provided 100 therapists within 48 hours.
fence surrounding St. Paul's Chapel, located adjacent to the World
Trade Center site, has become an impromptu gallery for well-wishers and
visitors to the site.
On September 12th, therapists met with Local 94 members at their union hall.
"It was pretty clear by assessment," Paula said, "that the
gentlemen who had survived September 11th were going to need a lot of help,
Nearly a year had passed when the Chief Engineer visited the men and women of
Local 94 in New York. As we conducted our interviews, we found that nearly every
person we talked with was still in need of emotional support.
Joe Shearin, who survived the devastation, told us that he still has the same
dream every night. "I wake up in a grave yard, and I am scrambling through
the graves looking for names on the tombstones," he said
Union members, fire and police personnel joined together in one of the many tributes to those lost on Sptember 11th.
Brian Muller, an operating engineer in charge of 4 World Trade Center, was outside
in the plaza of the World Trade Center when the first plane struck. "People
say they saw bodies," he told us. "To me they were my tenants; my
tenants that I protected for a very long time".
"I wish I could change things in my life," he said, "if I
could put them back like it never happened; in a heartbeat? in a heartbeat".
than 2,800 lives were lost in the attack on the World Trade Center in
New York. Workers gave silent respect to the remains of each victim
found in the ruins.
Many we spoke to were still in counseling, private therapy and on medication
to help them cope with the images that still haunt them. Others, we were told,
may begin to experience symptoms in the future as a form of Post Traumatic Stress
A special hard hat was used by IUOE members working at the World Trade Center site.
"We are going to be there for them," said Mike Carney. "Every
member; what ever it takes; no matter how long it takes".
In the wake of the unprecedented attacks on New York and America on September
11th, much has changed and more is in the midst of change. Americans, who for
so long relished their right to move freely, must now adjust to the intermittent
challenge to their identity and their possessions. Chief Engineers and Facility
Managers throughout the United States must now take into consideration the very
real threat to their tenants and properties.
The new federal Department of Homeland Security, State Legislatures and municipalities
are all considering new legislation or policies aimed at making commercial properties
safer. While government progresses, other organizations and individual property
administrators already have taken steps to improve security and develop emergency
plans for their buildings. What remains to be seen, is if they will learn from
the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 and understand the vital importance of incorporating
facility engineers as a measure of first response.
the beauty of its architecture to the zaniness of inhabitants in Times
Square, New York has always held a spell over Americans and the rest of
the world, as the quintessential great American city. Always
maintaining an aura of wonder and excitement, as well as hope for the
millions of new Americans who arrive there each year, New York will
always be America's City. And the poud men and women of New York's
Operating Stationary Engineers will always be regarded as the people
who keep that great city running.
As we were reminded in New York, when the first fireman and the first policeman
arrived on the scene, the stationary engineers were already there.
The International Union of Operating Engineers seems to be taking a leadership
role in applying the lessons learned from September 11th. Frank Hanley, the
General President of the Union told us: "The senselessness and cowardliness
of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the indescribable
hurt and sorrow they inflicted on innocent people will live in my memory forever.
I will carry always a feeling of empathy and sympathy for the victims of those
attacks and their families, especially for those members of the IUOE who perished
and their surviving families".
Hanley continued: "I think the actions ? many of them heroic in
nature ? of those IUOE members who were working in the complex at the
time of the attacks, including those who died, emphatically drive home the point
that IUOE stationary engineers play critical roles as first-responders to such
In concluding, Hanley told us: "Given that, I intend to re-emphasize the
necessity of the premier training programs the IUOE offers its stationary engineers,
and to expand them to include specific training as first-responders in the event
of tragedy. I also intend to make certain those powers-that-be in the corporate
and government arenas become cognizant of the exceptional skills and know-how
our members bring to the job, as was evident in the immediate aftermath of the
As that union and other property management and owners associations and organizations
gear up for the challenges of the future, the Chief Engineers will be tasked
with the duties of ensuring their staff receives the necessary training, as
well as assuming the leadership role in any emergency first-response effort
at their facility.
What the men and women of New York went through on September 11th, 2001 will
forever remain with us. The quick thinking and hard work of building engineers
was evident in the fact that buildings surrounding the World Trade Center site
were back in complete operation within hours of the attack. These buildings
proved critical to the rescue and recovery effort mounted at the site.
No sense can ever be made of what happened one year ago in New York. But we
Americans have a 200-year history of overcoming adversity. After all, that is
what America is all about. We are a nation comprised of people determined to
overcome adversity. We are a nation built by people who came here determined
to build better lives for themselves and their families. We are a nation of
new builders, more of whom arrive at our shores every day. This is the source
of our strength. This is the assurance of our future.
Six plans have been submitted for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site.
As we learned during our interviews, there will be much disagreement on which
plan will be adopted. Indeed, many feel no rebuilding should ever be undertaken.
But in the end, we are confident that New York will rebuild the site. That is
what we do here in America.
Ways You Can Help
The Chief Engineer asked everyone we met and spoke with in New York
how our readers may help. Below are the three suggestions we obtained and information
on how you can help and/or make a difference:
Write a Letter:
Mike Carney, President and Business Manager of IUOE, Local 94, told us that
what is needed most at this time by the men and women of his local, is perhaps
recognition for what they have endured and what they have accomplished, as well
as words of encouragement from other Stationary Engineers and the American public.
If you or someone you know would like to send a note to the men and women of
Local 94, Mr. Carney will be happy to accept the note and see to it that the
membership of his local union receive it.
Address your cards, letters or notes to:
Mr. Mike Carney
International Union of Operating Engineers, Local Union 94
331-337 West 44th Street
New York, New York 10036
Make a Contribution:
Readers who wish to support the recovery and rehabilitation efforts ongoing
in New York may do so by contributing to:
The IUOE Local 94 Disaster Relief Fund
331-337 West 44th Street
New York, New York, 10036
The American Red Cross in Greater New York
PO Box 3864
Church Street Station
New York, NY 10008
As the United States undertakes issues of homeland security, it is clearly apparent
that the safety and security of tenants in commercial, industrial, institutional
and large residential buildings can only be maintained through the proper training
and inclusion of facility engineers within emergency response plans. If we are
to learn anything from the tragic events of September 11th, it should be the
fact that facility engineers are the first responders to any emergency event
within their facilities.
Let your U.S. Senator, Congressman and State Representatives know that future
plans to safeguard American lives within commercial properties, must include
attention to the men and women who operate and maintain those properties.
Call or write your representatives.
Taking on a story as large as that of the attack on the World Trade Center
was something we admittedly did not give enough consideration to. Obviously,
we are not Time Magazine and certainly do not have the staff or other resources
that would make covering a story of this magnitude easier than it was. If we
had given more consideration to it, we still would have undertaken the task,
but perhaps we would have been more prepared for all that we encountered and
certainly more prepared for the vast range of emotions we came to experience
during our reporting.
That our staff was spending part of each morning describing their various nightly
anxiety attacks became more apparent as our deadline for this magazine grew
nearer. Each day, I, as Editor, was forced to decide which accounts we would
print and which accounts we could not fit into our tiny magazine. Clearly, this
was the hardest of all the decisions I had to make for this story. During our
reporting, we audiotaped over 20 hours of accounts from Engineers and others
who were in the World Trade Center buildings, helped with the rescue or clean-up,
or still work today to assist the survivors and family members of those who
perished. In addition, we filled three notebooks with interviews and observations
and captured 735 photographs.
Every interview we obtained is remarkable. Together, they not only could fill
a book, they undoubtedly will. In the same way that accounts of the attack on
Pearl Harbor are still being published or put on film today, more than 50 years
later, the attack on the World Trade Center will be written of in accounts published
more than 50 years hence. During the course of that time, the heroics and the
suffering of those we had the honor of meeting will perhaps be brought more
fully to light. For now however, the story is still unfolding, the wounds are
to fresh and the shock still apparent. What was experienced by some that we
interviewed simply cannot yet be related. They witnessed scenes that no human
being should ever have to see or experience. Many who we interviewed are under
the care of physicians and counselors; many are on medication. All that we interviewed
We also found something we never expected within this story. We found love.
The men and women of New York's IUOE Local 94 have such a deep and abiding
love for one another that we were simply left in awe. From the genuine concern
and care shown by Mike Carney, their President and Business Manager, to every
member we spoke to, a bond amongst them was all too apparent. Forged under the
heat of tragedy and tempered by the care and compassion they have for each other,
this bond is such that we were left certain that in the end, they would together,
find a way to heal each other.
The Chief Engineer gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the men
and women of New York's IUOE Local 94 who allowed us into their family
and assisted us in obtaining interviews with their members. We are especially
grateful to Mike Carney, their president and Thomas Hart, their Safety Officer
who facilitated our visit so well. We also thank the New York Times, for allowing
us the use of a photograph by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Vincent Laforet
for our front cover. Most especially, we thank the men and women of Local 94
who gave to us their time and their trust.
We will never forget.