N.Y.C. World Trade Center
September 11, 2001



 

Personal Recollections

[Maria A.Yurman-Gallo, the author of this essay, is a BSN, RN, MPA...as an additive only used on formal ceremonial and military occasions: Major - Head Medical Nurse, United States Disaster Relief Command. She works in Critical Care/Trauma, and has been a registered nurse for 20 years. When the calls came in for active duty on the morning of September 11, 2001, she was living in Nassau County, New York.

We drove as fast as we could, as soon as we heard the news - throwing uniforms, masks, gloves (ever-prepared) ...bottles of water, food, blankets, flashlights, into our cars, trying to get into the left fire lane, flashers on, trying to get to the City [Manhattan], to our hospital - any hospital!- to the wounded and dying...But there was so much traffic and chaos everywhere - as few were the cars and trucks going west, surprisingly the masses were trying to go east! (And where would going east take them, into the open Atlantic?)...

We were waving our hospital personnel badges to the police stationed everywhere, and I remember one police officer directing traffic yelling at us "Just go, go, go, go!...  Help them (in the City), for God's sake!!!'

[We saw] fire trucks from Greenport and Montauk (at the extreme ends of Long island - north and south tips!) and when we came just a little bit closer, trucks and ambulances from every area! And then when we tried to look we saw the vista marred by the smoke and the smell, the stench of burning rubber, electric fires, paper, and underlying? - you just couldn't  put your finger on it, but we knew...

Into the city streets: mobs of people milling around, people (hundreds and hundreds), strangers standing on a line that extended a city block donating their blood, money, help, anything they could do... giving us, handing us, pushing it into our hands! money (money!) to buy food, water at the local deli - "To help you people that are helping the Survivors!", they said to me/us... and we just shrank away, we gave it the Salvation Army, the Red Cross - they seemed to get there first - we gave it away quickly - like it would burn into our hands if we kept it for long...

Our Trauma Team was to respond to the 'site' which is now "Ground Zero", but it was providence that saved us from going (the heavy traffic, chaos and lack of information?) - the [WTC] towers fell one after the other... and no personnel went/were able to go, except our Army medical staff - and they didn't return for what seemed like weeks on end...

And those crying and searching for their family and loved ones, they were everywhere in the streets...the posters and pictures, the signs came up before noon - 1 PM... We let them be put up everywhere where there was a wall, they were placing them on street lights, the bus shelters, anywhere and everywhere.

'God save their souls' we thought and prayed (and we cried, man, did we cry!) But when we caught ourselves we quickly brushed back the tears or quickly ran into a closet or bathroom to strengthen ourselves and hug each other... When the walking wounded came (the few that survived or were close by) and some of them saw us crying, falling apart, it seemed like they could not bear it - to see 'us' cry! - they cried even more, gut-wrenching sobs from the bottoms of their souls... all our souls... 

The white ash rained everywhere, even in what was brilliant sunshine a few hours earlier, now a gray haze... people covered in it, people sobbing, most crying, some hysterical... and we were trying, oh so hard, Lord! to please stop the bleeding, stop the burning, the wounds, the pains...but there wasn't much to do (where were the survivors? And why did they bring us 5000 body bags?) ...washing bloody eyes out, wiping away the toxic waste covering our humanity... 'Ah, the humanity' we thought, 'what did they do to us, our city, our lives?' ...That's all I can say - it hurts too much to remember...

I recorded these words a long time ago, almost five years... but it is in my mind and heart like it was yesterday... It hurts to remember but it would be an injustice, let's say a sin, that we forget... Let us say a prayer for all of those that were taken to God, and all of us who lost our neighbors, friends and family on 9/11/2001 as well as our way of life.

Maria Yurman-Gallo
September 8, 2006

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran (Maria's first cousin)

Created: Friday, September 08, 2006, Last Updated: Friday, October 24, 2008
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