NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — On Sept. 11, 2001, Chuck Meara had to evacuate from the World Trade Center for the second time in a decade because of a terrorist attack.
Meara, who worked for the Port Authority, was in the North Tower in 1993 when terrorists exploded a bomb in the garage. So after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building, he and other veterans of the earlier attack didn’t panic.
They took their time getting out, casually deciding to leave.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks With Chuck Meara (Pt. 1)
“Our experience in ’93 had convinced all of us that the building could sustain a hit by an airplane,” Meara told 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks. “So, there was no real rush at the time to get out.”
After a few minutes, Meara and a few other people decided to start walking down the stairs, however, others decided to stay behind a bit longer.
“I know people who actually sat at their desks who said, ‘Well, you know, I have time. No rush. I’ll get out later,'” Meara said.
Unfortunately, those people never made it.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks with Chuck Meara (Pt. 2)
Nearly 10 years after the attack, Meara still remembers the bravery of those firefighters he saw coming up the stairs as he walked down 68 floors to get out of the tower.
“They’d take a breath on one of the stairwells — they were carrying all this equipment, they were lugging all this stuff. You know, you’d say, ‘good luck, hope it goes okay.’ All those guys are dead.”
Other moments also stick out in his mind like when he finally stepped out of the tower.
“I remember walking out of the building and the security guys were saying, ‘Don’t look back there’s stuff flying out, you’ll get hurt,'” Meara said. “Of course, when they say ‘don’t look back’ the first thing you do is look back.”
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks with Chuck Meara (Pt. 3)
When he turned around, he saw a huge gaping hole high up in the building.
“I remember thinking at the time, ‘How are they going to fix that? What are they going to do?'” he recalled.
Moments later, the tower fell.
“We got knocked to the ground, it was pitch black and I started gagging from inhaling all the stuff. I was just laying there,” Meara said. “You had no idea where you were, what was going on.”
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