Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It is a day after the 6th anniversary of the sep 11 terror attacks on the WTC. Six years ago, on this day, me and my friend stood watching the towers collapse just a few hundred metres away from ground zero. We were on our way to work when we saw the fire in the first tower and were told that we could not go to work. The first plane had already struck but the magnitude of the attack was not yet known. To me it looked like a small plane had maybe crashed due to pilot error. Then a little while later the second plane struck amidst a thunderous noise and the second tower was engulfed in a ball of flame. The first tower came down in a heap and the second one followed soon after resulting in a cloud of smoke and dust several storeys high.
The smoke cloud hung over the financial district for the next 2 days not dispersing and serving as a constant reminder of the events the previous day. It was hard to believe that in the place where the twin towers stood earlier, there now was a void. Our workplace was in the World Financial center which was just over 18 storeys tall. A part of the tunnel under the river had collapsed rendering commuting difficult. The impact from the collapsing towers was believed to have compromised the integrity of other structures around it such as Goldman Sachs, WFC etc. We learnt that it was a terrorist attack from the clerk at the hotel we were staying at.
I was at the time working with the Repo trading desk of Merrill Lynch, New York. While the emergency response teams were involved in relief and rescue work, the repo support team was frantically trying to restore the trading platform back into operation. The newyork stock exchange was temporarily out of operation (for a day or 2, if I remember right) after the disaster but trading soon began. The repo desk too was back in operation although with a few days old data. In fact, they would have been back up much earlier had not they been prevented from entering their offices to fetch some backup tapes for fear that the WFC building might collapse. The repo desk operated out of their office on the new jersey side in the immediate aftermath. The repo support team worked day and night to restore systems to operating state. Not an easy task by any standard. The same was the case wherever systems had shutdown or gone offline owing to the terror strikes and it was the triumph of human spirit that could be seen all around in the few weeks following that eventful day.

21 comments:

prakash visvanathan said...

In the post I have mentioned that the adjoining building of Goldman sachs was also evacuated. It could have been Morgan stanley. Iam not sure.

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