Tragedy in September
Emma Thornton's route covered floors 77 through 110 of Tower 1. It was the first to be struck that day. 10048 and 10047 were the ZIP codes for the World Trade Center buildings. Neither code exists today. On the morning of September 11, the employees of Church Street Station Post Office were busy at work inside the building, across the street from the World Trade Center. Thornton was preparing her mail for delivery. She stepped outside for a break. In this video, Thornton explains what happened that day.
Emma Thornton: The ZIP Code for my route is 10048.
Route number 99.
...there off the elevator, everybody was looking up.
So I went to the door.
So I said, what happened?
Somebody said, I heard a plane went through the Trade Center.
No, this is not good.
I said, okay, so I go outside.
And I look up.
And I said, oh my god,
who would set the World Trade Center up on the, you know, 89th floor.
I mean who would go up there and set the World Trade Center on fire?
Oh my god.
I was, you know, blabbering to yourself.
Oh my god, who would do that?
And so a man was on a cell phone.
And he said, a plane just went through the World Trade Center.
I said, oh my god they done bombed the World Trade Center again!
And he looked at me.
I said, oh lord I don't know what I'm going to do.
And then, you know, oh man, I was getting frantic then.
So I start running.
So I went around the corner some.
This guy said, what's the matter?
I said the World Trade Center is on fire.
He said, well why are you whispering?
I said, I don't know, you know, I don't know.
I said, come on, let's go back, let's go back
and find out where our coworkers are.
I said because, I don't know what's going on.
By the time I got back, in a couple of minutes, people start falling out of the windows.
Oh my god!
I start screaming.
I went to my knee.
Oh my god!
I can't take this.
Oh I was screaming and hollering.
Somebody later picked me up.
I was dying, you know. And my niece? Oh my head was...
Oh men I don't even want to think about it.
I think about it now I get crazy, so...
I said, oh my god, and my niece works in the building.
I said, I wonder where my niece is?
Oh, I was screaming and hollering and I didn't know what was going on.
So we went back around the front of the building.
Second plane hit!
Oh I thought the building was going to fall in.
So we start running, me and another lady.
So ran out of the building.
So I said, I'm going up by City Hall.
So I ran up by City Hall.
Before we can get there, next 10 minutes,
people were screaming, and hollering, and crying.
Building came down.
Like it just...
Like you grind, you know you take something and grind it up.
White stuff was...
It looked like snow.
You ever seen anything?
I can't believe this.
It looked like snow.
I didn't go to work for three days.
I reported three days later.
Everybody was hugging each other when they saw 'em.
Oh man, when you saw your customer and your customers saw you,
we would embrace each other than just cry like babies.
Yep, sure did.
And every customer would come there, you would ask them,
did everybody make it?
Did everybody survive or did anybody go down with the Trade Center?
And they would tell you.
Such and such didn't make it and that's how I know a lot of people didn't make it
because when they came to pick up the mail I would ask them.
And they would tell me, you know, such and such didn't make it.
They would come and get their mail, and some of them never came.
You never knew what happened to 'em.
They just disappeared.
On September 11, 2001, America experienced the worst terrorist attack ever. Thousands of lives were lost and others were injured as the World Trade Center vanished from the New York skyline.
Many postal workers responded to the chaos and confusion of that fateful day with selfless deeds. Supervisors, clerks and letter carriers alike aided those who survived the horrific tragedy.
At the Jersey City station, stunned survivors were transported to shelters and train stops in postal trucks. Those who stumbled past the Brooklyn post office were offered a cool drink of water. A supervisor at the Church Street station near Ground Zero saved countless lives by evacuating the building before the 110-story twin towers collapsed.