For the November 2001 issue of Glamour, over two dozen reporters interviewed 20 women about their experiences on September 11—rushing to get their stories before the issue went to press. Two decades later, we’re republishing their stories in this special look into our archives.
GENELLE GUZMAN, 31, WAS ONE OF FIVE SURVIVORS PULLED FROM THE RUBBLE OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER.
When my building, the North Tower, first started to shake, I thought it was an earthquake. I called my boyfriend, Roger, and he said, “I’m coming—meet me downstairs.” But then a P.A. announcement said to stay put, so some of us went back to the office.
A while later, smoke poured in, and everyone rushed to the stairwell. We all started down the stairs from the 64th floor together like a human chain. When we reached the 13th floor, I paused to take off my high-heel shoes, and suddenly, boom! The building began to collapse around me. I fell to the floor grasping my coworker’s hand but then lost her grip.
Debris fell from above, followed by total darkness and quiet. I tried to lift my head, but it was stuck between two concrete slabs. For several hours, I pulled, screaming from the pain, until my head broke free. My hip was pinned beneath more concrete, and as I tried to wriggle my legs free, I felt a body nearby. I thought if I could reach him, he could help me, but when I got close, I realized he was dead.
I never slept, not for a minute. I knew if I slept, I’d die. Instead, I prayed and thought about my daughter and Roger. They kept me alive.
When the firefighter found me 24 hours later, my eyes had swollen shut, so I could barely make out his uniform. Roger met me at the hospital. The first thing he said was “I love you.” I just cried. After four days of surgery on my right leg, they think I’ll be able to walk again. The same day the firefighter found me, Roger proposed. And I said yes.
SONYA ROSS, 39, IS A WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT. SHE WAS ON AIR FORCE ONE WITH THE PRESIDENT WHEN THE TWIN TOWERS COLLAPSED.
All of the reporters were staring at the TV in silence. I saw the text on the screen announcing that the first tower was collapsing, but I tore myself away so I could review my notes. Then I heard the TV reporter yell, “The second tower is collapsing!” I looked up. I hadn’t seen any images of the first collapse. It hit me then that there must have been thousands of people in those buildings who were dying. My hands flew to my mouth in horror. “Oh, my God,” I said. It had been very quiet on the plane until then. As a reporter, I try to stay emotionally detached. But when something like that happens, how can you not feel it? How can you suppress it.
EDRA KEHOE, 32, WORKED SEVEN BLOCKS FROM THE WORLD TRADE CENTER. SHE DESPERATELY SOUGHT NEWS OF HER HUSBAND, A NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER.
When I heard that a plane went through the World Trade Center, I went down to the street. Then I saw the second plane hit, and I just lost it. I went looking for my husband’s fire truck, but I had to evacuate. People were running everywhere. I saw people bleeding, people falling. I saw one man sitting on a bench, covered in soot. His mouth was open and he wasn’t even able to talk. I heard people say, “Those poor firemen.” That’s all I heard. Then the towers started crumbling.
I went looking for my husband at his firehouse on the Lower East Side. I saw four firemen in there. One of them said, “Can we help you?” And I said, “I’m Michael Kehoe’s wife.” He said, “He’s not here—he’s down at the World Trade Center.” My whole body went numb. I just sat in the firehouse. Three hours later, the phone rang. Another fireman answered the phone and said, “Mike?” And I thought, Is that Mikey? I got on the phone and he started screaming, “I love you! I love you!”