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9/11: 10 years later

Marengo native sees NY devastation firsthand

September 07, 2011
Marty Andry was at his desk, in front of the computer screen in his lover Manhattan skyscraper office early Tuesday morning, chatting online with sister Laura Line and longtime friend Jeff Roll.

That was the last time his life would be, for lack of a better word, normal.

But, at this point, Andry, the 37-year-old son of Novy and Colleen Andry of near Marengo, is simply thankful he has a life.

Like many New Yorkers, however, Andry had his world turned upside down last Tuesday morning.

Andry, supervisor for the word processing department at the Freid, Frank, Harris and Jacobson law firm, arrived at work around seven o'clock. He hopped on the Internet to chat with his sister and Roll, who live at Marengo and English, respectively.

During his chat with his sister, Andry got a telephone call from a co-worker who was running late because a plane had hit the North Tower at he World Trade Center.

"None of us really thought anything about it, because crazy things happen all the time. We thought it was probably just a small plane that had hit it and just an accident," said Andry, when contacted Thursday on his cell phone at a coffee shop about two miles north of the WTC.

"We didn't think much of it until the second plane hit," he said. "As soon as the second plane hit, I said 'I'm out of here.' "

Andry, who works on the 22nd floor, quickly made his way to the ground level and out of the building.

"I went downstairs, and it was chaos everywhere," he said. "I mean, there were people standing around everywhere."

Still, it was controlled chaos.

"It was just people everywhere looking for people and trying to figure out what had happened," he said. "Most people were just kind of standing around. They weren't rushing anywhere. There was nowhere to go anyway."

Andry couldn't see the WTC towers from his office because of the skyline. He headed south to Battery Park, on Manhattan's southern tip, for a clear view.

"I walked out to the park and looked up and just saw the flames out of both buildings. I just broke down right there," he said.

Wanting to get to his home on 204th Street in northern Manhattan, some 200 blocks from his office, Andry found himself like everybody else — helpless — all public transit was paralyzed.

However, he remembered that his bicycle — he made a 400-mile trek from Montreal to Portland, Maine, the week before — was being shipped to the lower east side of Manhattan that day. He made his way to the island's east side.

During his walk, he realized that he had seen the first tower crumble.

"I was watching when the first building collapsed, but I didn't realize what had happened," Andry said. "All of a sudden, I saw this huge white smoke, but I didn't realize that the tower had collapsed.

"It was probably five or 10 minutes later that I was looking and going, 'I can't see the other tower,' " he added. "I thought maybe I had moved to a position where the other tower that was still standing was hiding the tower.

"Everybody had their TVs and radios out, and I finally heard someone say it had collapsed, and I realized I had seen that happen but didn't know what it was," Andry explained.

Andry said his family knew he was safe since he was online with his sister when the towers were attacked. Still, he wanted to give his parents a call as soon as possible. He finally got in touch with them around 11:30 a.m. from a bar he passed on his way home.

His mother, Colleen, was extremely thankful to hear from her son.

"We were very nervous," she said.

The family's telephone lines stayed busy as friends of Andry — who has been a missionary and has met a lot of people through his travels — called the family to find out if he was safe. One call was from China.

"I was on the telephone all day," Colleen said.

Even though she knew her son was not harmed, Colleen had a difficult time containing her emotions.

"I cried all day," she said.

Andry first saw the footage of the plane hitting the second WTC tower while at the bar.

"That was actually the first time I had seen the video of the second plane hitting the building, which I didn't want to see, but I saw it," he said, his voice shaking.

Until two years ago, Andry worked in one of the WTC towers and was there in December for a Christmas party.

"As far as I know, everyone I know is safe," he said, explaining he hasn't stayed in touch with fellow co-workers.

Andry is proud of the way his fellow New Yorkers have banded together in the face of adversity, explaining the reputation the city has for not being friendly could not be farther from the truth.

"It's amazing how New Yorkers react, though. It's already a friendly city, which people don't realize," he said. "It's still like a community atmosphere where everybody's helping everybody, everybody's pulling together. It's really amazing."

From people flying American flags to donating more than what is needed, the city has shown its spirit, Andry said.

"It's just an outpouring of everybody wanting to get involved to help," he said, whether it's clothes or food for the rescue workers.

Andry said he believes the people in the city definitely support retaliation, however, that isn't their primary concern.

"I think most people in New York aren't as immediately worried about that as they are just about getting any survivors out and helping the people who might be affected"

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