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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Ground Shaking

Reports of Ground Shaking in the Oral Histories

The oral histories released on August 12, 2005 contain many recollections of ground shaking occurring during the collapses.

Brian Becker -- Lieutenant (F.D.N.Y.) [Engine 28]
We felt -- our whole building that we were in, when World Trade Center 2 collapsed, that was the first one to collapse. We were in World Trade Center 1. It was a tremendous explosion and tremendous shaking of our building. We thought it was our building maybe collapsed, there was a collapse above us occurring. It was tremendous shaking and like everybody dove into this stairwell and waited for, I guess, 20, 30 seconds until it settled, and that was our experience of the other building collapsing.
Interview, 10/09/01, New York Times

Michael Beehler -- Firefighter (F.D.N.Y.) [Ladder 110]
I was by I guess the outer part of the building and I just remember feeling the building starting to shake and this tremendous tremendous like roar and I just -- I kind of didn't even notice it, but like out of the corner of my eye, I saw out of the building, I saw a shadow coming down. At that point I thought it was the upper part of the north tower that had just basically like toppled over, fell off. I didn't actually see the building part go by me, because I think I was on the opposite side. But I just remember feeling this tremendous tremendous shake and hearing this, like, noise. Again I can't describe. What I did was I ended up running out.
Interview, 12/17/01, New York Times

Jody Bell -- E.M.T. (E.M.S.)
I lost track of time. You start to hear this rumble. You hear this rumble. Everything is shaking. Now I'm like, what the hell could that be. I'm thinking we're going to get bombed. This is an air raid. You hear this thunder, this rumbling. Then you see the building start to come down. Everybody's like, "Run for your lives! The building is coming down!" At that moment when that building was coming down, I was strapping a patient onto a stair chair.
Interview, 12/15/01, New York Times

Eric Berntsen -- Firefighter (F.D.N.Y.)
That's when we heard the building start shaking. I looked up into the Marriott, because you could see up into it from where we were standing, and just saw black, like dust. I saw stuff falling off the ceiling and I saw just black dust coming down. I turned and I ran a couple of steps west, a couple of steps east, and then we turned up north, up into the concourse, because I didn't see anything falling in that area at that time. So I felt that was the safest direction to go. I jumped into a corner. The lights went out. I jumped into a corner under an archway. I thought maybe that might provide some better support. I just held my helmet. I figured we were going to get like a pancake collapse on top of us. After the building stopped shaking and there was no rumbling noise any more, Vinny Picciano of 212 regrouped the company by saying 212, regroup, get back.
Interview, 12/04/01, New York Times

David Blacksberg -- E.M.T. (E.M.S.)
I lost track of time of when the second building was coming down. It sounded like one big rumble, and then it just sounded like it just continued, and I was -- I wasn't really paying attention. I was looking at the sound.
Interview, 11/23/01, New York Times

Robert Bohack -- Lieutenant (F.D.N.Y.)
from inside the North Tower:
We began, with the Port Authority cops, to come down the stairs. As soon as we got into the stairway, the building started shaking like an earthquake. I thought the building was coming down.
Interview, 01/09/02, New York Times

Nicholas Borrillo -- Firefighter (F.D.N.Y.)
on 23rd floor of North Tower:
Then we heard a rumble. We heard it and we felt the whole building shake. It was like being on a train, being in an earthquake. A train is more like it, because with the train you hear the rumbling, and it kind of like moved you around in the hall. Then it just stopped after eight or ten seconds, about the time it took for the building to come down.
Interview, 01/09/02, New York Times

Peter Cachia -- (E.M.S.) [Battalion 4]
I was like a little too close to the tower when it started coming down, because when I started running, I knew I was too close and I really didn't think I was going to get out of there. So about halfway up Liberty Street I saw a truck, I guess an SUV. It wasn't a police or a fire vehicle. It was just a car that was parked there. I went under the truck while the tower came down and the ground was shaking and the truck was shaking and I thought that was it for me. I thought I was done. I stayed under there until I guess everything was over.
Interview, 10/15/01, New York Times

Louis Cook -- Paramedic (E.M.S.)
I made it up onto the -- I guess you call it the concourse level, the mezzanine level, and onto the foot bridge when I started to hear -- I thought I heard an explosion of some sort, but I kind of dismissed it. I figured, ah, it's just something burning upstairs. I really didn't think of what was going on. Okay. I start going across this pedestrian bridge. I'm the only one on this bridge. I'm walking across it, and then I just remember feeling a rumble and hearing this rumbling sound that was really intense. It actually shook my bones.
Interview, 10/17/01, New York Times

Paul Curran -- Fire Patrolman (F.D.N.Y.)
North Tower:
I went back and stood right in front of Eight World Trade Center right by the customs house, and the north tower was set right next to it. Not that much time went by, and all of a sudden the ground just started shaking. It felt like a train was running under my feet.
The next thing we know, we look up and the tower is collapsing.
Interview, 12/18/01, New York Times

Joseph Fortis -- E.M.T. (E.M.S.)
T]he ground started shaking like a train was coming. You looked up, and I guess -- I don't know, it was one that came down first or two? Which one?
We were standing on West Street, and the ground started to shake. You looked up, and it looked like a ticker tape parade off the back of the building, because all this stuff started coming down.
Interview, 11/09/01, New York Times

Timothy Julian -- Firefighter (F.D.N.Y.) [Ladder 118]
You know, and I just heard like an explosion and then cracking type of noise, and then it sounded like a freight train, rumbling and picking up speed, and I remember I looked up, and I saw it coming down.
I made it right to the corner, and there's a column right there, and I was with my guys. We all made it to like the column, and I remember it was plate glass behind me, and I'm thinking I'm going to get hit by this glass and like a porcupine. I'm going to get it, you know, but nonetheless, it rumbled.
It was the loudest rumbling I ever heard. The ground shook, and I got thrown down, and I remember it just got black, and I got knocked down. I remember geing buried.
Interview, 12/26/01, New York Times

Bradley Mann -- Lieutenant (E.M.S.)
Shortly before the first tower came down, I remember feeling the ground shaking. I heard a terrible noise, and then debris just started flying everywhere. People started running.
Interview, 11/07/01, New York Times

Keith Murphy -- (F.D.N.Y.) [Engine 47]
At the time, I would have said they sounded like bombs, but it was boom boom boom and then the lights all go out. I hear someone say oh, s___, that was just for the lights out. I would say about 3, 4 seconds, all of a sudden this tremendous roar. It sounded like being in a tunnel with the train coming at you. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard in my life, but it didn't sound good. All of a sudden I could feel the floor started to shake and sway. We were being thrown like literally off our feet, side to side, getting banged around and then a tremendous wind starting to happen. It probably lasted maybe 15 seconds, 10 to 15 seconds. It seemed like a hurricane force wind. It would blow you off your feet and smoke and debris and more things started falling.
Interview, 12/05/01, New York Times

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