CIRCLEVILLE – “Things changed for New York after 9/11,” said Richie Verito a Brooklyn New York native, who owns the New York Deli in Circleville Ohio. “It wasn’t a big deal for us to spend the day in Lower Manhattan where the towers were, we worked there, we played there, shopped, we grew up, we made memories there.”
“I remember the morning of 9/11 like it was yesterday,” said Verito, “My older gentleman next-door neighbor who I had known all my life woke me up on the morning of 9/11 with a broomstick rapping at my door.”
“Unknown to me American Airlines Flight 11 had already hit the North Tower. I opened the door in standard New Yorker, what do you want? The elderly man said your mom is trying to call you it’s an emergency. So I checked my cell and my caller ID and there were no calls. I went back to him and was like there are no calls on my phone. That’s when he started going into trying to explain what was wrong, but it wasn’t coming out right, and he said, just turn on the TV.
I turned on the tv and we were getting live views of the North tower on fire, it was shocking, as I watched I saw at 9:03 am United Flight 175 hit the South Tower.
“Wholly crap what’s going on I said, then I was instantly worried because my sister worked in the Wall Street area that’s close to the towers, and we are under attack. It took me a minute, for it to completely sink into what is going on. See we were always felt at risk of a bombing after the first bombing of the world trade center in 1993, we heard rumors of possible bombings in the subway tunnels or bridges but it was just something you heard.
Lower Manhattan was shut down, the subway, the streets, the bridges everyone who worked down there now was on foot and there are thousands of people down there. Later we found out my sister walked across the Brooklyn bridge to escape the situation.
After the buildings came down, I thought what happens next, how do I get around, how do I get to work if there is work, what trains are running, and are they safe?
Almost immediately people were on edge, you could just feel it, the uncertainty, rumors were bustling, fear of more attacks.
Two days later, groups of people were gathering to go to the Brooklyn Assembly member’s office to help load up vehicles with supplies that were going to ground zero. At the time everyone in our areas was doing this, giving mass supplies for the people who were working around the clock at ground zero.
When we got there, people were just loading supplies like water, toiletries, paper towels, coffee, everything there was a lot of stuff. They ran out of emergency equipment because it was all downtown, so people were just loading stuff into personal trucks and vehicles.
They asked me to get into the vehicles to help unload when the trucks got to the locations where supplies were needed, as many people who could fit in the trucks went. I got stuck into a vehicle with strangers, just other people who had come to give help to the cause.
As we were leaving we were told that we were going directly to ground zero, that the supplies we had on our truck were needed at the main scene of the attack. Many of the other vehicles were staged in other areas we were the only truck to go there. They radioed ahead, gave the plate number or some sort of identification and there was a police escort, as we headed Downtown check point after check point were opened for us as we drew closer to the scene.
When we arrived on ground zero we unloaded our supplies and one of the men in the group said we need to do more, and whoever was in charge made us sign some sort of paperwork that said who we were, and we were given hardhats, a respirator, a reflective vest, and a bucket. We were removing rubble, parts of the building we were picking up. I all of a sudden became part of the rescue efforts.
I remember having to walk through the window of a building and out the other side to get across the street because there were large pieces of the building that was too tall to climb in the middle of the road. We became part of a bucket brigade that was filling buckets of rubble and handing it down in a chain gang fashion uncovering the scene. There were several cadaver dogs in the area looking for survivors.
When we moved up on top of the rubble a moment ill never forget as I looked up across the West Side Highway and the corner of a building about twenty stories up had a large chunk of the world trade center sideways stuck in the building. Windows were blown out of buildings, chunks of other buildings just gone. I realized it is around noontime and it’s silent in Lower Manhattan, it’s never quiet in this area, ever. It was a surreal moment one that I remember like it was yesterday, I said, where am I, even though I knew where I was, I’d been there a million times, It was like the depths of hell. I felt like I was in a movie, but I knew it was real. I remember being called off the scene a lot due to the structural integrity of the buildings around us because not all the buildings were down yet.
We were there all day It was late like 11 – 12 pm before we got back to Brooklyn
Richie told us that he hasn’t ever returned to the scene, but he told us that New Yorkers went on afterward, “that’s what they do,” he said, “but that’s what we all had to do across America, we had to keep going.”
“I’ve been back to New York and Brooklyn where I grew up, but not downtown because I’ll never get that image of what was there, and what it was out of my head. The memories of us as kids going up the Towers going there in grade school as a class trip, then seeing it in rubble brings back too many memories I don’t want to deal with.”
On September 11, 2996, people died that day. many were never found in the rubble that Richie described. A full list of the names can be found here: https://www.sciotopost.com/371727-2/