Thanks to everyone who called to see if I was okay.
Nearly everyone I talk to saw most or all of the entire event, from the initial plane crash to the second tower collapsing. And everyone seems to know at least one person who worked in the World Trade Center, but doesn’t know where they are now.
The UN was evacuated yesterday, and only essential people are to report today (now I know where I stand in the hierarchy).
Yesterday the dust and debris blew east into Brooklyn, and this morning it blew west into New Jersey. But it’s blowing north now and it’s unpleasant to breathe outside, even outside my building, which is a mile north of the impact site. The smell is odd, very clean-smelling, like chemical cleansers or fire extinguisher spray – not like the burnt wood/electrical fire smell of yesterday.
Many people outside hold cloths in front of their face to breathe, and there is a fine layer of dust on the front windows of the apartment now. I had to close the windows. My nose and throat have been irritated since yesterday morning, but that will pass.
I tried giving blood, but many of the hospitals are turning people away; there are more people willing to give blood than there are people qualified to draw blood. Most medical professionals and volunteers are busy with the people (fewer and fewer as the days pass) who were brought from the wreckage. For now, people with o+ blood are asked to give now, and others are asked to come back in the next few days.
I went outside to explore, but only residents are allowed south of Canal Street, which is a few blocks south of where I am. No cars are allowed south of 14th Street, so pedestrians have plenty of room to wander. The only cars seen are convoys of dump trucks laden with debris, heading north slowly; clusters of 2 or 3 police cars with flashers and sirens on, speeding after some suspicion; or random army trucks chugging down an empty Broadway.
It’s very quiet, and the only sounds are the occasional siren, news helicopters overhead, and the church bells which ring on the hour and which would normally be drowned out by the roar of garbage trucks and taxi cab horns.
I wandered through Little Italy, where they had been setting up for the annual feast of San Gennaro, but the stalls and kiosks had only been halfway constructed before being abandoned.
Chinatown, however, was bustling the same as ever. You would never know anything had happened. The lower east side was similar. I picked up some bialys and bagels at Kossar’s which was open like always.
Some restaurants were open also: Barolo, Il Corallo, Pescadou, but most businesses are closed today. The few that are open are closing. There are no deliveries to stores south of 14th, so many people have to walk a mile or more to get newspapers or fresh milk. Most subway trains are running now, but I and others are a little nervous to ride them.
A lot of people are standing in groups near the police barricades on Canal Street, listening to news updates on car radios. The attitude outside is very mellow. Most people who are out are not in a hurry to get anywhere, and without the traffic no one has to rush to cross the street. The bums still beg and the brats in SoHo still whine, but everyone else seems very calm and sober, still reflecting on what we saw yesterday.