In Saturday’s newspaper, AJC reporter Craig Schneider reflects on his personal
experiences ten years ago covering the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a
story you’ll get only by picking up a copy of The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s
iPad app. Subscribe
Below is an excerpt:
The neighborhoods surrounding Ground Zero were eerily quiet and empty. The
streets were papered in memos and reports and letters that had blown out of
the collapsed Twin Towers. On one corner, somebody had neatly lined up 20 or
30 shoes, covered in white dust.
Everyone I spoke to had a story — the cab driver, the postman, the man
emerging from the wreckage with a pick ax over his shoulder. He was covered
in dirt and soot and sweat. He told me how he had been to the bottom of the
wreckage, using the ax for support as he climbed deeper and deeper into the
twisted metal, like a kid going down some crazy set of monkey bars.
“There ain’t nobody alive in there,” he said. It shocked me, because hundreds
of workers were still digging their way into the rubble, often bucket by
bucket. But he was right. After a few days, Mayor Rudy Giuliani made it
clear that hope was all but gone of finding more survivors.
Thousands of people had simply disappeared into dust.
The soot was thick in the air, and it quickly caked in the back of my throat.
I’ve covered my share of plane crashes and other tragedies, but I had never
seen a city so devastated — and so bonded together.