study question #1
(5 Messages )
Reflecting on the events of 9/11 described in “Horror, Then a Helping Hand”, as well as other national or local
catastrophes (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires, etc.) do you see government employees having any special
responsibilities over and above those private sector employees might have in these situations?
Horror, Then A Helping Hand
By Tanya N. Ballard
October 1, 2001
In New York, federal employees fled for their lives, then pitched in to help.
offices on the 37th floor of 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan slowly filled up as usual
on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11. Employees got coffee, buttered bagels, greeted co-workers, made their
way to their desks and generally went about their morning rituals preparing for the new workday.
Then, at 8:45 a.m., came the deafening explosion. The building shimmied as word quickly spread among
Census employees that an airplane - later identified as American Airlines Flight 11 - had crashed into one of
the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center complex just blocks away. Just minutes later, as
employees stood gaping in disbelief at the smoke and destruction outside their windows, a second airliner
swept across the sky and slammed purposefully into the second tower, hurling a fireball into the sky. It was just
past 9 a.m.
Across the country, Tony Farthing, director of the Census Bureau's New York Region, learned of the first crash
and turned on the television in his hotel room in Albuquerque, N.M., to get details. Instead, he saw the second
plane - United Airlines Flight 175 - make its deadly attack. Initially stunned, Farthing quickly recovered and
grabbed the phone, ordering his employees out of the Federal Plaza building as fast as they could move,
hoping that none of his staffers were on subway trains beneath the World Trade Center.
"Some of them do come through the World Trade Center to come to work," explains Farthing, who had stopped
in New Mexico en route to an agency conference in San Francisco when the attacks took place. "I was calling
back frantically, making sure they were able to account for folks." Then his thoughts turned to the television
images of debris flying and hunks of the burning towers falling into the streets, and he began to worry that his
employees might not be safe outside, either. Farthing continued trying to call his colleagues, rapidly dialing
both his cell phone and the phone in his room.
The news would only get worse. At 9:43 a.m., American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Minutes