20 years later, fallout from toxic WTC dust cloud grows

Health

AOL 10 September, 2021 - 03:31pm 95 views

How did the towers collapse on 9 11?

The original World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, New York City was destroyed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, after being struck by two hijacked commercial airliners. One World Trade Center (WTC 1, or the North Tower) was hit at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time and collapsed at 10:28 a.m. wikipedia.orgCollapse of the World Trade Center

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Teen sensations square off in women’s US Open finals l GMA

Yahoo News 10 September, 2021 - 04:20pm

20 years later, the aftermath of the toxic WTC dust cloud continues to grow

MarketWatch 10 September, 2021 - 10:21am

Gray powder billowed through the open windows and terrace door of Mariama James’ downtown apartment, settling, inches thick in places, into her rugs and children’s bedroom furniture.

Barbara Burnette, a police detective, spat the soot from her mouth and throat for weeks as she worked on the burning rubble pile without a protective mask.

Today, all three are among more than 111,000 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, which gives free medical care to people with health problems potentially linked to the dust.

Two decades after the twin towers’ collapse, people are still coming forward to report illnesses that might be related to the attacks.

To date, the U.S. has spent $11.7 billion on care and compensation for those exposed to the dust — about $4.6 billion more than it gave to the families of people killed or injured on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 40,000 people have gotten payments from a government fund for people with illnesses potentially linked to the attacks.

Scientists still can’t say for certain how many people developed health problems as a result of exposure to the tons of pulverized concrete, glass, asbestos, gypsum and God knows what else that fell on Lower Manhattan when the towers fell.

Many people enrolled in the health program have conditions common in the general public, like skin cancer, acid reflux or sleep apnea. In most situations, there is no test that can tell whether someone’s illness is related to the Trade Center dust, or a result of other factors, like smoking, genetics or obesity.

Over the years, that has led to some friction between patients who are absolutely sure they have an illness connected to 9/11, and doctors who have doubts.

“Most people thought I was crazy back then,” Mariama James says.

She initially had a hard time persuading doctors that the chronic ear infections, sinus issues and asthma afflicting her children, or her own shortness of breath, had anything to do with the copious amounts of dust she had to clean out of her apartment.

Years of research have produced partial answers about 9/11 health problems like hers. The largest number of people enrolled in the federal health program suffer from chronic inflammation of their sinus or nasal cavities or from reflux disease, a condition that can cause symptoms including heartburn, sore throat and a chronic cough.

The reasons for this are not well understood. Doctors say it could be related to their bodies getting stuck in cycles of chronic inflammation initially triggered by irritation from the dust.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has emerged as one of the most common, persistent health conditions, afflicting about 12,500 people enrolled in the health program. Nearly 19,000 enrollees have a mental health problem believed to be linked to the attacks. More than 4,000 patients have some type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a family of potentially debilitating breathing problems.

Time has helped heal some physical ailments, but not others. Many first responders who developed a chronic cough later had it fade, or disappear entirely, but others have shown little improvement.

About 9% of firefighters exposed to the dust still report a persistent cough, according to Fire Department research. About 22% report experiencing shortness of breath. About 40% still have chronic sinus problems or acid reflux.

Tests on Fire Department personnel who spent time at ground zero found that their lung function declined 10 to 12 times greater than the rate normally expected due to aging in the first year after 9/11.

On the encouraging side, doctors say their worst fears about a possible wave of deadly 9/11 cancers haven’t come true.

Nearly 24,000 people exposed to trade center dust have gotten cancer over the past two decades. But for the most part, it has been at rates in line with what researchers expect to see in the general public. The largest number have skin cancer, which is commonly caused by sunlight.

Rates of a few specific types of cancer — including malignant melanoma, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer — have been found to be modestly elevated, but researchers say that could be due to more cases being caught in medical monitoring programs.

“We really don’t have the tremendous elevations in cancer I was afraid of,” says Dr. Michael Crane, director of the World Trade Center health clinic at Mount Sinai. “I was terrified that we were going to have epidemic lung cancer.”

One study showed that cancer mortality rates have actually been lower among city firefighters and paramedics exposed to Trade Center dust than for most Americans, possibly because frequent medical screenings caught cancers early.

Beneficiaries of that screening include people like Burnette, who initially started getting treatment at the Mount Sinai clinic for a lung disease — hypersensitivity pneumonitis with fibrosis — that she developed after spending three weeks in the swirling dust at ground zero.

During one of those visits in 2017, a scan wound up detecting lung cancer.

“Had I not been in the program, or not seen Dr. Crane, I don’t know that they would have found it,” Burnette says. Since then she has had two rounds of chemotherapy. It hasn’t cured her, but it has kept the cancer at bay.

In the federal health program’s early years, many people enrolling were police officers, firefighters and other people who worked on the debris pile. More recently, though, a majority of applications have been from people who worked or lived in Lower Manhattan — folks like Carl Sadler, who was in Morgan Stanley’s 76th-floor office in the Trade Center’s south tower when it was struck and rocked by a hijacked aircraft.

“There were millions of pieces of paper flying out. Credenzas. Computers,” Salder says. “We saw chairs flying by that looked like they had people in them.”

He worked his way down stairwells and escalators to the street, then moved away with the crowd. “As we got to Water Street, just a block away from the Fulton Fish Market, there was a huge explosion and the clouds and everything just turned black ash and gray and we were covered with soot,” he says.

Initially, Sadler’s health seemed fine. But a few years after the attacks, he started to get winded while exercising and suffering from recurring bronchitis. In his 60s, he had to give up some outdoor pursuits like skiing and soccer.

“I just had breathing problems,” he says, “but I never knew what they were.”

Now 80, he has been diagnosed over the years with acid reflux disease, asthma, and also thyroid cancer and skin melanoma, for which he was successfully treated. He figured it was all just part of getting older until around 2017, when a friend suggested he register with the World Trade Center health program.

“He said, ’You have a lot of health issues. You’ve had a lot of health issues. You should register,” Sadler says.

Last year another 6,800 people joined the health program. Not all its members are currently sick. Many have signed up in case they get cancer in the future. Some have had their conditions clear up. Last year, about 1,000 people in the program got in-patient treatment and around 30,400 got outpatient treatment, according to program statistics.

The victim compensation fund, which makes payments to people with illnesses linked to the attacks, has an unlimited budget from Congress, but the medical program has grown so much it might run out of money. Members of Congress have introduced a bill that would provide an additional $2.6 billion over 10 years to cover an expected funding gap starting in 2025.

Under the program, anyone who worked or lived in Lower Manhattan or a small slice of Brooklyn is eligible for free care if they develop certain illnesses. The list includes about a dozen types of airway or digestive disorders, 10 different psychological disorders and at least two dozen types of cancer.

Research is also underway to possibly add to the list of covered conditions. The program’s administrator, Dr. John Howard, says conditions being studied now include autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis.

One early estimate was that as many as 490,000 people could wind up being covered, in part because people don’t have to prove their sickness is related to the Sept. 11 attacks to qualify. If a person has a condition on the list, they are presumed to be eligible.

“We cover lung cancer, regardless of attribution issues,” Howard says. “If you have lung cancer, we don’t go through an analysis of how many pack-years of smoking you engaged in.”

Viewed through the lens of public health, what might the next 20 years after 9/11 hold for people who were there on that morning, and on the days and weeks that followed?

The average age of enrollees in the federal health program is now around 60, and Dr. Jacqueline Moline, director of the World Trade Center health clinic at the Northwell Health medical system, is concerned that people’s health problems will worsen as they age. Cancer caused by asbestos, she noted, can take as long as 40 years to develop after exposure.

“We are just getting to the point where we might start seeing stuff,” Moline says. She’s also deeply concerned about the long-term effect of post-traumatic stress.

In addition to the psychological harm, there are fears that the constant jolts of adrenaline and other stress hormones that come with PTSD could worsen heart problems or weaken the immune system. And with that, the emotional and physiological ripples of one day in September 20 years ago could collide in new and debilitating ways.

Crane, who has been treating ground zero responders since the beginning, says one thing is clear based on the continuing stream of new patients: The issue isn’t going away.

“They keep on coming,” he says. “They keep on coming in the door.”

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Sept. 11, 2001: The Day Time Stopped

HODINKEE 10 September, 2021 - 10:00am

Weekend Rewind Treat Yourself To A Good Time With This Gold-Tone Seiko SRPC44

Weekend Rewind Let's Put The Omega Seamaster Through Its Paces

Introducing TAG Heuer Drops A Stealth Aquaracer That Glows In The Dark

Twenty years ago, the watch you see here was strapped onto the arm of a New Yorker named Thomas Canavan as he walked into work at the Twin Towers.

“It’s just a regular watch, for a regular guy,” Thomas Canavan tells me. “I think I mighta paid 10 bucks for it, I don’t recall. Maybe at Walmart? All I remember is, I bought it because I needed something reliable. I was taking the train to and from Grand Central every day, and if you learn one thing doing that, everything’s a matter of seconds. But the watch? There’s nothing special about it, really.”

But of course there is something special about the watch. And about Canavan.

A quartz field watch made by a brand called Milan, which is a trademark held by the M.Z. Berger company, the piece sits encased in a small box beneath a pin-light in a quiet corner of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, opposite the crumpled door of a New York Medical Examiner’s car. It has a Seiko movement, thick Arabic numerals, syringe-style hour and minute hands in white, a leather strap in black, and a thin seconds hand in red. Covered in ash and soot, darkened in spots with what remains of Canavan’s dried blood, the watch binds us to that morning.

That morning, September 11, 2001 – when the sky in New York City was so impossibly blue it seemed you could see forever. A sky so intense and rare in its limitless visibility that the conditions have a special name. Pilots call it “severe clear.”

Return now to that bright September morning. Canavan rises early and catches the 6:36 AM train from his home in Fishkill, a small town two hours up the Hudson River. He’s a brawny, 42-year-old man who was raised in New York City. A securities specialist with a two-year-old son at home, as well as a wife who he had just learned was pregnant with their daughter.

The time ticks ahead to 8:30 AM, and now he’s on the 47th floor of the North Tower, in his boss’s office at First Union/Wachovia Bank, talking about the day that was just coming into being and what needed to be done.

And then, 8:46. Fifty floors above his head, American Airlines Flight 11 slams into the tower, and 10,000 gallons of jet fuel erupt into a giant fireball.

“The building … ” Canavan pauses. Even now, 20 years after that morning, he’s still not sure that any of us who were down here can understand what it was like up there.

He continues. “The building, it swayed from side to side. And then … it righted itself. But nothing was right. Really. I remember looking out the window – and it was just papers and falling metal and chunks of glass.”

The eye sees, but the mind doesn’t understand. Because what can the mind compare it to? So the mind reverts to structure. To known actions, tasks. The desire for normality. Like putting papers away. Tidying our desk.

But then the smoke comes. Smoke, filling the hallways.

Canavan pulls together a group of twenty or so colleagues, leads them to one of the interior stairwells where they begin to make their way down, passing firefighters climbing towards the fires. “We were trying to help them, trying to pass up some of their equipment. They just kept saying, ‘Keep going. Keep going.’”

When Canavan lands at the bottom of the stairwell, he realizes he is on the concourse level – a vast underground network of shops and restaurants and subway lines below the World Trade Center. It’s protected from the chaos above, and from here, Canavan knows the way out. But just as he is about to step into the concourse, he hears someone call out: an elderly couple, making their way down the stairwell. Without thinking, Canavan turns back, and guides them down the final flights.

“I hear this rumble, and it just gets louder and louder and then and I feel this incredible heat coming toward me. The next thing I know, something slams me on my head. Everything goes dark. I can’t hear a thing. I can’t see a thing. I say to myself, ‘I’m dead.’ And I think, ‘That wasn’t so bad.’ But then I realize I can taste sand and grit in my mouth. And I can smell smoke. And I think, ‘Wait. I’m not dead.’”

A concrete slab has bludgeoned him, but stopped short of crushing him. Six inches either way, and he would be dead. But now, he gathers his mind. He starts to push the stone and steel and debris off of him. And as he starts to crawl free, a hand grabs his leg.

Canavan looks. A security guard has hold of him. Canavan tells him, “If you stay here, you will burn or you will suffocate. I have a daughter on the way. I am getting out. I am going to see my daughter be born. I am not dying here.”

Canavan starts to dig. And dig. How long he digs he’s not sure because down here time has stopped. He digs 40 feet east and four-stories up, claws his way through rubble and rebar and glass and body parts toward a pinhole of light. When Canavan reaches the light, he turns to the guard behind him and tells him he’s too big to make it through. He tells the security guard to go first, so he can pull Canavan out and now Canavan pushes the guard through the hole, watches as the man’s shoeless feet vanish from view, the dust of pulverized stone falling on his bloodied face.

Canavan looks toward the light, waiting for the hand to appear, the hand to grasp.

No hand appears. Everything is silent. Canavan pushes his head out the hole and then he sees it: The security guard, clambering down the pile of rubble. Walking away from him. Leaving him trapped. Canavan yells to the guard, tells him he has to help him get free.

“He just waves at me and says, ‘C’mon!’ And then he was gone. I never saw him again.” Canavan pauses. “No one did.”

Furious, Canavan pushes his way through the hole. He realizes now he is standing in the plaza between the two towers.

“I look up. I can see my building, but everything else is a blizzard of paper and grey smoke.”

Canavan does not know that the rubble he has clawed his way out of, the rubble that tried to kill and bury him, is all that remains of the South Tower.

“And then I start to hear things falling around me. I remember … I got hit with a leg. People … had started to jump from the North Tower.”

Instinct tells him he cannot stay here. That he must keep moving. All he knows is he wants to go home. Get home. Somehow. Any way he can. 

But then, the heat comes again. The rumbling comes again.

He hides in a doorway. Smoke. Dust. Dirt. Nothing but grey and black and brown. He waits for the roar to stop, and when it does he starts to walk North again. North, toward Grand Central. North, towards his wife’s office in Midtown. North, toward their home.

A police officer sees Canavan, dazed and confused, wandering in the street – a man with blood covering his face, his clothes ripped and torn, his shoes half-melted around his feet. The officer pushes Canavan into an ambulance that takes him to Beth Israel Hospital. When he gets there, Canavan hears doctors and nurses saying, “He’s critical,” and all Canavan can think is, “Who? Who is critical?”

Nurses slice what remain of his clothes off of his body, stitch and staple gashes in his head, pull shards from his hands. He sees a TV. Scenes on its face that make no sense to him. 

He points to the images on the screen, asks a nurse, “What happened?”

The nurse is speechless now. All she can do is point back to the screen bolted to the wall.

Again and again and again, the towers collapsing in on themselves.

He tells them, “I have to call my wife. I have to see her. I need to see her,” and they manage to get a line out to his wife who is still at her office. They leave him alone with her on the phone, and once again something cracks inside him. He rips out the tubes, takes out his oxygen, and gets off of the gurney. In the hallway, he finds some scrubs in a hamper and a shirt in a donation bin and puts them on, and walks out of the hospital. He feels the sun on his face.

And then he finds her, right where she said she’d wait for him – beneath the great clock in Grand Central Station, underneath that vaulted ceiling of stars set in a vast and blue and cloudless sky. Together, they board the 5:02 that winds its way up the banks of the Hudson, the ancient river that flows two ways. The train takes them home. It’s crowded with faces of people he knows, faces looking at him now, a man with his head wrapped in a thick bandage. A survivor.

It was only later that Canavan noticed something curious about the hands on his watch: They had frozen at 8:49 AM – three minutes after Flight 11 plowed into his tower.

When he had gotten home that night, he put the watch in a drawer, along with his office ID and wallet. The things he carried that day.

“For a long time, months and months after that day, I didn’t look at any of it. Then, one day, I picked up the watch and I noticed two things. One, the date was frozen on the 11th. Then I noticed that the watch was still ticking,” Canavan says. “Only … sort of. What I mean is, when the red second hand would get to the 12, it would immediately go backwards, to the 10. It would not go past the 12. It was locked in this little loop. Over and over: 10, 11, 12 … 10, 11, 12. Forward, then backward in just that little space. Like it was trapped in a loop. It ran that way until the battery gave out.”

Like his memories of that morning, Canavan kept the watch out of sight, in a box. The days and months after September 11, he lived in a fog of depression and guilt and anxiety medications prescribed by doctors.

“One morning, I woke up, and decided I’d had enough. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I flushed all my pills in the toilet, and drove to Pennsylvania. I’m a history buff. So I went to Gettysburg, to the battleground. I spent three days there. All I could think is that it was the only place in America where more Americans had died. And I told my demons, all the demons who were inside me, I said to em ‘Here – this is where you’re going to stay. With these other souls.’ And I left them there.”

Some years later, a curator at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, having learned of Canavan’s story by reading a news account, contacted him, and asked if he had kept anything from that day. She was looking for the things he carried. Objects that had survived with the survivors that day.

Why not, he thought. Maybe it was time to let it go. 

“These days,” Canavan tells me, “I don’t wear a watch. I really don’t worry about time anymore.”

Michael Hainey is the author of the bestselling memoir, After Visiting Friends.

By Logan Baker

By Jon Bues

By Jon Bues

By Jack Forster

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By Danny Milton

By HODINKEE Shop

By Logan Baker

Sept. 11, 2001: The Day Time Stopped

KTLA Los Angeles 10 September, 2021 - 10:00am

Weekend Rewind Treat Yourself To A Good Time With This Gold-Tone Seiko SRPC44

Weekend Rewind Let's Put The Omega Seamaster Through Its Paces

Introducing TAG Heuer Drops A Stealth Aquaracer That Glows In The Dark

Twenty years ago, the watch you see here was strapped onto the arm of a New Yorker named Thomas Canavan as he walked into work at the Twin Towers.

“It’s just a regular watch, for a regular guy,” Thomas Canavan tells me. “I think I mighta paid 10 bucks for it, I don’t recall. Maybe at Walmart? All I remember is, I bought it because I needed something reliable. I was taking the train to and from Grand Central every day, and if you learn one thing doing that, everything’s a matter of seconds. But the watch? There’s nothing special about it, really.”

But of course there is something special about the watch. And about Canavan.

A quartz field watch made by a brand called Milan, which is a trademark held by the M.Z. Berger company, the piece sits encased in a small box beneath a pin-light in a quiet corner of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, opposite the crumpled door of a New York Medical Examiner’s car. It has a Seiko movement, thick Arabic numerals, syringe-style hour and minute hands in white, a leather strap in black, and a thin seconds hand in red. Covered in ash and soot, darkened in spots with what remains of Canavan’s dried blood, the watch binds us to that morning.

That morning, September 11, 2001 – when the sky in New York City was so impossibly blue it seemed you could see forever. A sky so intense and rare in its limitless visibility that the conditions have a special name. Pilots call it “severe clear.”

Return now to that bright September morning. Canavan rises early and catches the 6:36 AM train from his home in Fishkill, a small town two hours up the Hudson River. He’s a brawny, 42-year-old man who was raised in New York City. A securities specialist with a two-year-old son at home, as well as a wife who he had just learned was pregnant with their daughter.

The time ticks ahead to 8:30 AM, and now he’s on the 47th floor of the North Tower, in his boss’s office at First Union/Wachovia Bank, talking about the day that was just coming into being and what needed to be done.

And then, 8:46. Fifty floors above his head, American Airlines Flight 11 slams into the tower, and 10,000 gallons of jet fuel erupt into a giant fireball.

“The building … ” Canavan pauses. Even now, 20 years after that morning, he’s still not sure that any of us who were down here can understand what it was like up there.

He continues. “The building, it swayed from side to side. And then … it righted itself. But nothing was right. Really. I remember looking out the window – and it was just papers and falling metal and chunks of glass.”

The eye sees, but the mind doesn’t understand. Because what can the mind compare it to? So the mind reverts to structure. To known actions, tasks. The desire for normality. Like putting papers away. Tidying our desk.

But then the smoke comes. Smoke, filling the hallways.

Canavan pulls together a group of twenty or so colleagues, leads them to one of the interior stairwells where they begin to make their way down, passing firefighters climbing towards the fires. “We were trying to help them, trying to pass up some of their equipment. They just kept saying, ‘Keep going. Keep going.’”

When Canavan lands at the bottom of the stairwell, he realizes he is on the concourse level – a vast underground network of shops and restaurants and subway lines below the World Trade Center. It’s protected from the chaos above, and from here, Canavan knows the way out. But just as he is about to step into the concourse, he hears someone call out: an elderly couple, making their way down the stairwell. Without thinking, Canavan turns back, and guides them down the final flights.

“I hear this rumble, and it just gets louder and louder and then and I feel this incredible heat coming toward me. The next thing I know, something slams me on my head. Everything goes dark. I can’t hear a thing. I can’t see a thing. I say to myself, ‘I’m dead.’ And I think, ‘That wasn’t so bad.’ But then I realize I can taste sand and grit in my mouth. And I can smell smoke. And I think, ‘Wait. I’m not dead.’”

A concrete slab has bludgeoned him, but stopped short of crushing him. Six inches either way, and he would be dead. But now, he gathers his mind. He starts to push the stone and steel and debris off of him. And as he starts to crawl free, a hand grabs his leg.

Canavan looks. A security guard has hold of him. Canavan tells him, “If you stay here, you will burn or you will suffocate. I have a daughter on the way. I am getting out. I am going to see my daughter be born. I am not dying here.”

Canavan starts to dig. And dig. How long he digs he’s not sure because down here time has stopped. He digs 40 feet east and four-stories up, claws his way through rubble and rebar and glass and body parts toward a pinhole of light. When Canavan reaches the light, he turns to the guard behind him and tells him he’s too big to make it through. He tells the security guard to go first, so he can pull Canavan out and now Canavan pushes the guard through the hole, watches as the man’s shoeless feet vanish from view, the dust of pulverized stone falling on his bloodied face.

Canavan looks toward the light, waiting for the hand to appear, the hand to grasp.

No hand appears. Everything is silent. Canavan pushes his head out the hole and then he sees it: The security guard, clambering down the pile of rubble. Walking away from him. Leaving him trapped. Canavan yells to the guard, tells him he has to help him get free.

“He just waves at me and says, ‘C’mon!’ And then he was gone. I never saw him again.” Canavan pauses. “No one did.”

Furious, Canavan pushes his way through the hole. He realizes now he is standing in the plaza between the two towers.

“I look up. I can see my building, but everything else is a blizzard of paper and grey smoke.”

Canavan does not know that the rubble he has clawed his way out of, the rubble that tried to kill and bury him, is all that remains of the South Tower.

“And then I start to hear things falling around me. I remember … I got hit with a leg. People … had started to jump from the North Tower.”

Instinct tells him he cannot stay here. That he must keep moving. All he knows is he wants to go home. Get home. Somehow. Any way he can. 

But then, the heat comes again. The rumbling comes again.

He hides in a doorway. Smoke. Dust. Dirt. Nothing but grey and black and brown. He waits for the roar to stop, and when it does he starts to walk North again. North, toward Grand Central. North, towards his wife’s office in Midtown. North, toward their home.

A police officer sees Canavan, dazed and confused, wandering in the street – a man with blood covering his face, his clothes ripped and torn, his shoes half-melted around his feet. The officer pushes Canavan into an ambulance that takes him to Beth Israel Hospital. When he gets there, Canavan hears doctors and nurses saying, “He’s critical,” and all Canavan can think is, “Who? Who is critical?”

Nurses slice what remain of his clothes off of his body, stitch and staple gashes in his head, pull shards from his hands. He sees a TV. Scenes on its face that make no sense to him. 

He points to the images on the screen, asks a nurse, “What happened?”

The nurse is speechless now. All she can do is point back to the screen bolted to the wall.

Again and again and again, the towers collapsing in on themselves.

He tells them, “I have to call my wife. I have to see her. I need to see her,” and they manage to get a line out to his wife who is still at her office. They leave him alone with her on the phone, and once again something cracks inside him. He rips out the tubes, takes out his oxygen, and gets off of the gurney. In the hallway, he finds some scrubs in a hamper and a shirt in a donation bin and puts them on, and walks out of the hospital. He feels the sun on his face.

And then he finds her, right where she said she’d wait for him – beneath the great clock in Grand Central Station, underneath that vaulted ceiling of stars set in a vast and blue and cloudless sky. Together, they board the 5:02 that winds its way up the banks of the Hudson, the ancient river that flows two ways. The train takes them home. It’s crowded with faces of people he knows, faces looking at him now, a man with his head wrapped in a thick bandage. A survivor.

It was only later that Canavan noticed something curious about the hands on his watch: They had frozen at 8:49 AM – three minutes after Flight 11 plowed into his tower.

When he had gotten home that night, he put the watch in a drawer, along with his office ID and wallet. The things he carried that day.

“For a long time, months and months after that day, I didn’t look at any of it. Then, one day, I picked up the watch and I noticed two things. One, the date was frozen on the 11th. Then I noticed that the watch was still ticking,” Canavan says. “Only … sort of. What I mean is, when the red second hand would get to the 12, it would immediately go backwards, to the 10. It would not go past the 12. It was locked in this little loop. Over and over: 10, 11, 12 … 10, 11, 12. Forward, then backward in just that little space. Like it was trapped in a loop. It ran that way until the battery gave out.”

Like his memories of that morning, Canavan kept the watch out of sight, in a box. The days and months after September 11, he lived in a fog of depression and guilt and anxiety medications prescribed by doctors.

“One morning, I woke up, and decided I’d had enough. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I flushed all my pills in the toilet, and drove to Pennsylvania. I’m a history buff. So I went to Gettysburg, to the battleground. I spent three days there. All I could think is that it was the only place in America where more Americans had died. And I told my demons, all the demons who were inside me, I said to em ‘Here – this is where you’re going to stay. With these other souls.’ And I left them there.”

Some years later, a curator at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, having learned of Canavan’s story by reading a news account, contacted him, and asked if he had kept anything from that day. She was looking for the things he carried. Objects that had survived with the survivors that day.

Why not, he thought. Maybe it was time to let it go. 

“These days,” Canavan tells me, “I don’t wear a watch. I really don’t worry about time anymore.”

Michael Hainey is the author of the bestselling memoir, After Visiting Friends.

By Logan Baker

By Jon Bues

By Jon Bues

By Jack Forster

By Jon Bues

By Benjamin Clymer

By Danny Milton

By HODINKEE Shop

By Logan Baker

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