It’s old news now, but the day of the steam pipe explosion in NYC was a traumatic and scary one for a couple of my co-workers at Control Room NYC HQ. Susan sent an email out to people that evening and with her permission I’m reposting it for you to read. Thank you, Susan.
I had a very scary and unique experience today. It was approaching 6pm at work. I was wrapping up a few things and leaving soon for an evening out. I heard what sounded like thunder, which would have been predictable since we’d had horrendous rain and thunderstorms earlier in the day. But the sound rumbled on longer than thunder would. My friend and co-worker, Pari, and I looked at each other with a concerned look that grew more intense as the seconds went by. At one point I even said to Pari, “I have that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach”. She concurred. After a few “what the f’s” and approximately 20 seconds, a few other people in our offices popped out, also concerned. We went to a window and saw people running, full-on racing, down the street. Simultaneously, everyone had the same thought – “let’s get out of here, NOW!”. Leaving computers on, pens clicked on where they lay, folders askew, we grabbed only our personal bags and headed towards the lobby of the 16th floor. Crazy, but instinctively and without discussing it, everyone knew to take the stairs. So down we started. There was already a thin stream of people descending. Not much talking. A few “what happened?” and a few panickers talking out loud or on their cell phones. Pari heard a guy basically saying goodbye to whoever was on the other end of the phone. Pari, in her comfortable ballet flats, raced ahead of me. Every man for him or herself I suppose. (Smiling) I, on the other hand, had worn my 4″ platforms today. So I navigated about 3 or 4 flights with them on, everyone passing me by, until I decided to whip them off and rapidly descend the remaining floors barefoot. Amazing the thoughts that go through one’s head during something like this. The most humorous was probably the realization that it’s really difficult to descend that amount of stories. That my legs were getting a great workout and that maybe I could skip the gym tomorrow morning. The more grave turned to, “so this is what the people felt like at the WTC”, or “I know it wasn’t our building that exploded, but what if we’re next”, or “jesus, they said we were going to be attacked again soon, and here it is”. Anyway, the central point was to go as fast as I possibly could.
I reached the lobby, finally, and Pari was waiting for me. It was mayhem. We ran out to the street and it was worse. We still had no idea what had happened. People were saying it was a building explosion. Maybe Met Life Building. Maybe Grand Central Station. All within two blocks. Someone else said a building was crumbling. We headed south because we both live in that direction, but also it was away from whatever was happening. People everywhere. Fire and police vehicles everywhere. LOUD. Everyone trying to use their cell phone but once again, no service. I felt lost for a minute, looking everywhere, and Pari grabbed my hand. She started running and pulling me. We ran and ran, hand in hand the whole time, passing other people running, people standing around looking lost, little kids crying, Pari saw a woman crying, covered in dirt. I didn’t see her. After about five blocks I realized I was still holding my shoes and was barefoot. Ew, gross. But running in platforms was simply not an option. At one corner we stopped and looked at the sky behind us. It was a cloudy day so we could barely make out a thick cloud of something billowing about a block past our offices. Shaking with fear and rubbery legs, and without speaking about it, we both had the same thought and continued bolting. Remember the news footage? Yeah, get away from that as quickly as possible.
Finally, at approximately 15 blocks from the area, we stopped at a mani/pedi place so that I could buy some flip-flops. At that point my feet could not possibly get dirtier, but I didn¹t’ want to step on something and cut them. And anyway, ew, gross. We reached Madison Square Park where seemingly the people there had no clue what was happening 15 blocks north. Kids were playing on the swingsets, people were leisurely walking their dogs. We sat on a bench to catch our breath and try to reach some family. This is when we started getting glimpses of reports that there was a steampipe explosion. Christ, all this for that? We continued walking south and stopped at a bistro for a drink and a bite to eat and talked about how lucky we were today. But also about the fact that this is now the reality of our lives and the world we live in. It was our instinct to leave the building immediately, to take the stairs, to run far away. To reach out to family and let them know we were okay.
I just wanted to share this with you to remind everyone that we really do need to live for every day.