Remembering 9/11: Taking The Call: How A Sussex County Resident Helped Those Who Worked in 7 World Trade Center
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 • 6:24am
NEWTON, NJ - On the morning of September 11, 2001, Melissa Logan was in the bathroom, getting ready to go to work at the Prentice Hall Textbook Publishing Company in Boston, Mass.
Her roommate began talking to her through the bathroom door, encouraging her to come out. When Melissa did, she learned of a plane hitting the World Trade Center.
Melissa grew concerned, as her mother worked at 7 World Trade Center, and then she watched as the plane hit the second tower.
Melissa reached out and called her mother.
"She said everything was fine, and Building 7 was not evacuating," Melissa said. "She also told me everyone felt the explosion."
Melissa's mother told her a message came over the intercom, instructing employees not to leave. They later learned the reason was those who oversaw Building 7 were checking the elevator speeds to ensure they could evacuate workers as quickly as possible from the 50-story building.
The next event was the collapse of the towers, and Melissa received a panicked call from her crying father in the Bronx, knowing the towers collapsed on the subway station her mother would normally take to head home.
"No one heard if she was OK, and we were concerned she was under the rubble," Melissa said.
Melissa called her office to tell her supervisors she was headed for New York. Melissa's employer told her to take as much time as she needed.
Although two of the hijacked planes were commandeered from Boston's Logan Airport (American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the North Tower at 8:46am, and United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the South Tower at 9:03am), Melissa lived south of it, and was not caught in traffic as a result of the airport's closure after the hijacking.
As Melissa drove on Route 95 South in Providence, R.I., her sister-in-law called. She learned her mother had contacted the family, and she was safe.
It now became an issue, Melissa said, of how traumatized her mother, and fellow employees, would be from the experience.
"They still didn't understand how serious things were," Melissa said.
Her mother's supervisor, for example, requested to exit on the 30th floor to retrieve his wallet, so he could leave, and pay for parking at the trade center's garage.When Melissa's mother, who had already endured the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, left her building, she was greeted by fire, and airplane debris. First responders were telling workers from the trade center not to stop, as those passing by gawked at the burning towers.
One of the most traumatic experiences for Melissa's mother was witnessing those who jumped out of the buildings; they were close enough to her, she could see their faces as they fell.
Melissa's mother was also still wearing her "commuter shoes", a pair of flip-flops, as she trudged through the debris.
Then, the first tower started to collapse, and Melissa's mother ran for her life with the crowd, as a dark cloud followed them.
No one on the ground realized the severity, and urgency, until then.
"It was kind of like a fire drill, no one thought there would be such an impact, and the buildings would collapse," Melissa said. "They thought they would be going back to work."
Melissa's father attempted to drive into the city, and was turned away by police.
Melissa's mother walked to 96th Street, and sat in the bar of a hotel where a family member worked, until situations calmed down enough that she was able to take the subway home.
As an employee of Salomon Smith Barney's Human Resources Department, Melissa's mother was part of the company's "disaster plan", and was required to return to work on September 12. With 7 World Trade closed not only due to the collapse of the towers, but the collapse of that building itself, the company rerouted the Human Resources Employees to New Haven, Conn.
"She was completely unemotional," said Melissa of her mother as the day concluded. "She almost shut down. I didn't want to let her out of my sight."
Melissa drove her mother, and one of her co-workers to Connecticut, then proceeded to help them with fielding phone calls from workers who were called in with questions ranging from concerns of fellow employees being killed in the disaster, and inquiring if they would be laid off.
"We reassured people we were doing the best to account for the employees," Melissa said.
"It was hours of fielding phone calls, and providing standard information and phone numbers," Melissa said.
Melissa said her mother's company accounted for all employees, and they were safe. There were no layoffs Melissa was aware of, and all employees were relocated to other offices. Some left because they could not commute, and others retired.
Of her mother's experience, she said, "It's one of the stories people don't hear about. That there are people who can't decompress. It was really difficult for my mom, and I am glad I got to help. My mom was never the same, I don't think she got the counseling she needed."
Melissa's parents have since relocated to Florida, after her mother cashed in her stock options, and retired.
"It was sort of the last straw for my Dad," Melissa said. "He didn't want her to work there after the first bombing. When she walked in the door that night he said, 'I told you this was going to happen.'"
For her parents, who were additionally on the verge of divorce after 36 years of marriage, 9/11 changed their story.
"My dad had enough of urban life, and dealing with the terror of it, and now it's quiet where they are, they wanted peace," Melissa said.
"It was clear they loved each other, and September 11th proved that," Melissa added.
For Melissa, September 11 also had an impact on her life. She ended up meeting her husband, and a couple of years later, was pregnant with her first child. Her due date was September 11. With gestational diabetes, and a breach birth expected, her doctors planned to induce her on September 11, and her son was born on September 12.
"We like to celebrate our son's birthday, and keep it positive," Melissa said.
After Melissa and her husband had their children, they moved first to Hackensack, N.J., and then arrived in Sussex County in 2005. Melissa is very involved in the community, and more especially due to September 11.
“My nod to September 11th is to be a part of the community, and to be a part of an emergency plan,” said Melissa.
She is part of the Town of Newton’s DVRT (Domestic Violence Response Team), which helps those who report cases of domestic violence to the police.
“There’s got to be someone who can look someone in the eye, and see what you can do,” Melissa said.
Melissa additionally volunteers her time as the chair of the Economic Development Advisory Commission Chair for the town, as well as acting as an alternate on Newton’s Planning Board.
She is in the process of earning her bachelor’s degree, and, from her volunteerism she has switched to a major, which will help her to focus on urban studies, and planning.
“September 11 was such a defining moment for some people,” said Melissa. “You figure out what you want to do, and you figure out what makes you happy.”
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth story in our series, “Each Person Has A Story – The Alternative Press of Sussex County Remembers September 11”.