Since the beginning of last week I've been trying to get my life back to
normal. As some of you know, I was at Newark airport when the tragedies
occurred, and I could see the World Trade Center towers as they burned
and fell. The images of that day will haunt me for the rest of my
life - as well the frightening feeling of standing in the middle
of an airport and suddenly realizing that all communications were
cut off. Within minutes of the attack on the second tower, all phones
in the airport were silenced. Cell phones and public phones didn't
have as much as a dial tone, and the closed-circuit airport monitors
went to a static test screen.
Like the hundreds of people around me, I tried calling family and friends
just about every ten seconds - not only to tell them that we were
all right, but also to hear more about what might be happening. Finally,
walking through the airport, we found a bar that still picked up
CNN on its satellite. We watched in disbelief as they replayed what
we had just seen with our own eyes - a burning tower, and a plane
flown directly, horrifyingly into a second tower.
The reception was poor, apparently because CNN had to rely on older technology.
When one of the towers was hit, their transmitters atop the towers
were destroyed. Cell phone towers were also destroyed, as were some
landlines underneath the towers - having succumbed to what Verizon
described as the force of "several earthquakes." In the
aftermath of all of this mayhem, people in the city struggled to
contact their loved ones and let them know they were okay. Many relied
on their cell phones, and some had limited success - however, the
panic set in, and the entire city tried to contact their friends
and family, it was necessary for people to rely on other modes of
communication as well.
Most people, it seems, turned to the Internet - and e-mail. My mother,
unable to reach me by phone for the entire day, was finally able
to get a message to me via e-mail - and also receive a message from
me assuring her that I was fine. In the city, many people sent out
collective messages - to several friends and acquaintances - asking
them to check in via e-mail, and let them know how they and their
loved ones were doing. Meanwhile, at ground zero, where communications
were a necessity and could not depend on the unpredictable reception
of cell phones, emergency crews turned to the services of amateur
Though you may not have heard much about it through conventional news outlets
- Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil
Emergency Service (RACES) organizations were able to set up emergency
nets in lower Manhattan. With the help of amateurs, the emergency crews
in lower Manhattan have been able to assist government traffic as
well as help hospitals in their efforts to maintain the necessary
levels of blood supply.
In light of this tragedy, please consider visiting one of the following web sites
and offering a contribution of some kind that might help the families
of those who were lost or injured:
Red Cross Donations
Helping.org - has a listing of organizations
The United Way
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see what we can do. Good-bye for now, Carlos. About