Jeffrey Shirer's Story | Submitted by Jeffery Shirer

Jeffrey was home with his wife and 20 day old daughter on 9/11. He was watching t.v. when the second plane hit the tower. His mother called and told him to turn on the t.v. He described the scene on the television as a movie and a shocker. He saw people jumping out of the building from the intense heat. He heard about the plane crash in Pennsylvania. The next day, he called his union and found out that it was dispatching workers for the clean up after the authorities assessed what was happening; he wanted to help. One week later, Jeff was dispatched to the Verizon building and took a lot of pictures from the building. He took pictures of the pit down below filled with rubble from Tower 1.

Basically, Jeff's job was to clean up and recover, and steel burning later on. He said that his thoughts at 9/11 was that he didn't want to leave his wife, but wanted to go down and help. He saw a lot of fires as the metal of the buildings kept igniting. His wife was happy to have him safe at home, although was supportive of his work in the recovery efforts. Jeff saw people standing on the West Side highway cheering for him and the other workers. Many of them were holding up encouraging signs. He said it was up-lifting. A lot of people came together: suits, hard hats, police officers. Started to put it back together. He described it as witnessing the human response to a tragedy and it was remarkable. He worked with some guys who were workers at the WTC. One of them saw the plane hit the building. Jeff worked at the sight from September until about January and came back in May working for a different company, named Amec Construction.

His wife, Morgana said that it was difficult for her having her husband work as part of the recovery effort. She had just given birth to a child and Jeff would come back exhausted. He would eat dinner and then go to sleep. Morgana was also worried for her husband she was afraid something could happen to him, but she fully supported his work.

Jeff said that his “Ah” moment was seeing eight stories of rubble with a dump truck on top of it.The dump truck, he said, looked like a toy. He also saw a morgue that was set up at the American Express building, which was across the street from the WTC. He often saw workers carrying body bags wrapped in American flags. Whenever a body bag contained a police officer or fire fighter, people saluted. Jeff explained,one of the recovery workers walked out holding up a head and that worker said that he had to convince himself that it was a doll's head. Jeff stated that the hardest part was seeing the body parts.

The East side of the Verizon building had to be evacuated one day, but due to miscommunication the entire building was evacuated. There was a lot of miscommunication and people did their own thing at first, but people eventually broke out into teams.

Jeff has only told his story to his family members and keeps in touch with some of the workers. Talking about his experience also brings back all sorts of memories, sad and good; it was difficult coming here to talk about it, though it made him feel relieved. His youngest daughter never knew that he worked as a recovery worker until he took out the pictures recently. He and the workers also tried to find comic relief during the recovery effort and everyone pulled together. He even worked into the nights sometimes, but said it was no different from working in the day, except the workers got longer breaks. As a service to the recovery workers there were boats set up near the area that offered food, clothing and massages. Jeff explained at time there was so much food and clothing the workers didn't know what to do. A few times they convinced them to send some of the food and clothing to homeless shelters and soup kitchens around the city.

Jeff completely stopped working at Ground Zero at the end of June 2002. He hasn't thought about his experience until he found Voices. When he revisits those memories, he gets mixed feelings of sadness and fond memories.