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“It’s Like New York Is Missing Its Two Front Teeth.”


Kara Mealy was a 21-year-old UC co-op when she stepped off the subway directly under the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, placing her at ground zero but in the dark about what was happening overhead.


Date: 8/10/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Gulnara Samoilova and from Two Twelve Associates

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“I was in the subway, and my normal stop is right under the World Trade Center.  I got off the train and was going up the stairs.  Just as I was coming out of the train, I heard a loud boom.  I thought it was strange to hear a big boom like that way down there.  Then, these two ladies went running past me, and they were screaming ‘Don’t go up there!’ but I wasn’t sure why….”

That’s how Kara Mealy, then a 21-year-old UC co-op student working for a New York City graphic design firm, begins her recollections of Sept. 11, 2001, a day she thought would be just like any other in her workplace right across the street from the Twin Towers.


Ironically, since she was directly beneath ground zero when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 slammed the WTC at 8:45 a.m., Mealy was – at first – in the dark about events that morning.  Her goal for much of that morning was a frustrated one: simply pressing on, trying to get to work at Two Twelve Associates, Inc. 

Unsure of what was happening, she tried to take the steps up to the World Trade Center shopping mall; however, a security guard blocked the doors.  He didn’t enlighten Mealy about events but only told her, “You can’t go through here.”  Mealy then recalls, “So, my only way out of the subway was to ride to the next stop and get up and out there.  That’s what I did.  I still didn’t know what was happening.”

A co-op staffer from New Jersey laments: When you sail out on the water and look back, it’s like New York is missing its two front teeth.

Finally emerging onto street level a couple of blocks farther away from the towers, Mealy was still committed to simply making it to work even after “I saw that the first tower had a huge hole in it…There were tons of emergency vehicles and so many sirens…Then, I heard another boom [when the second plane struck], and then, everyone was running toward me.  I can’t describe it.  It was a heavy tide running toward me.  Everyone was running from the towers.  The only thing I could do was run with them.  It was a state of complete panic.  No one knew what was happening.”

And, later, when UC’s co-op and co-op alums knew the full details of 9-11, they chose to continue working in New York, and a score of UC co-ops opted to join them.  As one co-op, who arrived in New York City just two weeks after 9-11, put it:  “We might have come late, but we came.”

Return to main page of "Co-op Special Report."
Return to main page of excerpts from The Ivory Tower and The Smokestack.


 



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