Raymond's Story | Submitted by Raymond Jones

Raymond Charles Jones
May 11, 2010

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mr. Jones was working in Jersey City as a carpenter on the Goldman Sachs building.  Mr. Jones was pouring concrete columns when the first plane hit.  Because of his position behind the column and his ear plugs, he didn’t know anything happened.  Mr. Jones did notice many people standing around and looking all in one direction.  No one said anything so Mr. Jones went back to his task.  Then he actually heard the second plane hit and when he looked past the column, he saw the end of the fire ball and knew this wasn’t good.  The general foreman informed everyone to stop working.  Mr. Jones and his colleagues made their way down the ladder and dropped off their tools.

Mr. Jones noticed that all mass transit was stopped and his colleagues were starting to worry how they would get home.  Instead of joining in, Mr. Jones saw a triage setting up on Essex Street and began to help.  He stayed there for 2 hours, helping clean up the area, so another person could be brought in and treated.  He then began handing out water and moved over to the docks to help stock them up with supplies and water.

After filling up 2 boats with supplies, when the third boat came in, Mr. Jones got on with a mission to get on the island.  At first they were not letting the boat land.  They rode around and around until the Coast Guard let them land.  He threw his backpack on the dock to help unload and was surprised to see the Coast Guard searching his backpack.  Once he was let through, he immediately was taken back by the inches of dust on the ground.  He also realized no one was around.  Mr. Jones put on his hood and started walking backwards uptown as the wind was blowing debris and dust downtown.  The first activity he saw were tow trucks towing cars away from the site to let other vehicles in.  Mr. Jones noticed little fires in the blown out windows of the Deutsch Building.  Then he saw the cross walks on West Street; one with pieces missing and the other on the ground.  Mr. Jones stopped to get a respirator that he had to change many times because the canisters filled up so quickly with the dust.

Mr. Jones naturally gravitated to the iron workers and helped them in any way he could.  After hours of searching for survivors, Mr. Jones got a change of clothes and found an office in the Winter Garden to get some rest. 

Over the next several days, Mr. Jones followed no schedule.  His days and nights were helping iron workers remove debris, getting his eyes washed out, finding a change of clothes, showering at a nearby hotel being used by police officers, getting food and sleeping for a few hours on a booth at The Grill Restaurant. 

After a week, it clearly because clean up instead of search and rescue.  As contracts were being given out, Mr. Jones decided his time was over.  He went home, cleaned up, went to bed and off to work the next morning.

Although it was an experience of a lifetime, to Mr. Jones, helping out was just another day.