For George Kerstetter, National Solutions Engineer for PerfectVision, this time each year has caused a lot of emotion to come through, and has for the past two decades, as the world remembers the events on 9/11/2001.
Kerstetter was an Operations Manager at Verizon in Upstate New York on that fateful and infamous day. One of his peers, whose office was in one of the Towers, was attempting to clear some issues with an employee’s workers comp case when Kerstetter called her to check on her progress.
“That’s when the woman said ‘…the fire alarm was going off’, and she would need to call him back,” Kerstetter told Inside Towers. “Minutes later someone ran into my office and said a plane hit The World Trade Center, which I had just flown over less than a week before, and remembered how majestic it looked. As we watched the day’s events unfold, and eventually in horror as each tower came down it became clear to me that I had to go and be a part in whatever capacity they’d let me.”
On Thursday at 5:00 a.m. Kerstetter headed south to help with the restoration efforts. He said he will never forget the moment he was able to see the plume and got his first glimpse of the skyline that had been forever changed.
“I was filled with emotion and as I made my way through the Lincoln Tunnel was shocked at the Humvee posted on each corner with guns pointed at those of us making our way to Ground Zero. That first day was a blur, pulling cables up the side of our then headquarters at 140 West St., navigating the tons of rubble and debris, WTC 7 had partially collapsed on our building, and the cable vault recently pumped free of water and diesel fuel,” he said.
Yet, he worked the night shift, where he said he was thankfully free from the dignitary and celebrity photo ops, but kept working under the brilliance of the light towers and drone of every type of excavation equipment that was available.
“One thing was still clear;” Kerstetter said, “I have never known such silence as that when every piece of machinery would stop, construction and first responder crews formed lines, removed hard hats and watched as victims’ remains were finally freed from the pile. As you tried to never make eye contact with the person across because the same thoughts raced through our minds. It never got easier or routine, and it took 15 years for me to return.”
By Jim Fryer, Inside Towers Managing Editor