Greenville native watches as walls come tumbling down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Last Tuesday was a typical workday morning in New York City for Greenville native Shannon Salter.

After getting off the subway, Salter headed west on Broadway toward her office in Soho when she noticed some people gathering on the corner.

"I didn't really know what was going on, but I heard someone say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center," Salter explained. "I looked toward the building and there was a huge gaping hole with smoke coming up. At the same time, a lady came running down the street crying on her cell phone because she couldn't get in touch with her child who was in school near the towers."

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Not knowing quite what was going on, Salter went four more blocks to Next Management, a modeling agency, where she works as an assistant. "My building faces to the south and I could see the tower from the window. A few minutes later, I saw a huge explosion

the second plane had hit. We couldn't hear it and we couldn't feel it, but I did hear a couple of others say that they could."

"I just kept running back and forth to the north side of the building, to the window that faces the Empire State Building; I just kept thinking that a plane was going to hit there, too," she said.

Not too long after the second tower was hit, Salter said she saw the first tower collapse. "One man in my office said, It will be weird to just see one tower,' and then only minutes later, the second tower collapsed.

"I just kept trying to keep busy because I was at work, but I kept going back to the window. It was right before I saw the second tower explode that I saw the first person jump. I screamed as did many of the people in the office, but Faith, the president of the company, just kept telling me don't look, don't look,'" Salter explained.

She said that one of the worst memories that she has about the entire experience was seeing people through the windows of the World Trade Center right before it collapsed. "That's one of the things that I don't think I'll ever forget. That and seeing the people jump. It was just today (Monday) that we went back to work. The company has been really great. My boss called me at home and the company also is offering counseling for anyone who might need it," Salter said.

"One of the weirdest things about the whole experience was leaving to go home that day. When I left the building, there were crowds of people on the street, but there was complete silence. There was no chaos

there was just complete silence on the streets of New York," she explained.

"I didn't want to go home because I live right next to the United Nations building so I stayed with a friend. On Wednesday, I went to the grocery store, but there was no food left and I think it was finally on Thursday that it started sinking in what had happened."

Salter said that many sounds of the city that she would normally never notice she became full aware of. "I live near both LaGuardia and JFK airports so there was always some plane or helicopter flying by, but those first few days, I was horrified to hear helicopters as they flew by. Part of that paranoia came because Mayor ***** had said there were 90 bomb threats on Thursday," said Salter.

"I assumed we would go back to work on Friday. I was scared to take the subway so I tried to hail a cab, but most of the streets were closed because President Bush was expected in town. So, I took the subway and after I got on, somewhere along the trip, we stopped and heard a rumbling above us. I got so scared and didn't know what was going on, but it ended up it was the express train above us. I never noticed that before," she said.

"We finally went back to work today (Monday)," Salter said, "and it was the first time I had really been in the area since it all happened. There were vigils all around."

Salter said that the typical stereotype that most southerners hear about New Yorkers isn't true at all. "I haven't experienced that at all. Everyone in my building is so nice and we know each other and take care of each other. We have our own little community. We attempted to give blood, but there was a five hour wait so we packed the lobby with supplies like flashlights and one lady in my building decorated the area in red, white and blue balloons. We're our own little family," Salter explained.

"Most of my family in Greenville can't understand why I decided to move to New York, but I really love it here. I know all of my neighbors in my building and we have dinners together. It's a community within a community and we are all very close."

Salter moved to New York after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in history. She is the daughter of Larry and Leah Salter and is a graduate of Fort Dale Academy.