Greenville native in NYC during attack

Published 3:32 pm Friday, September 9, 2011

The city that never sleeps went silent.

That eerie silence is something Greenville native Jennifer Idland will never forget.

“On a normal day New York City is such a noisy place,” Idland said. “But it was so quiet.”

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The silence signified that this was anything but a normal day in New York City. Just a day earlier al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked two planes and crashed them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center killing 2,606 Americans.

Idland was 25 blocks away from the scene, which would become known as Ground Zero.

“I was in New York with a friend that had a business meeting,” she said. “The morning of (Sept. 11) we got up and went across the street to get a bagel, and we heard all these fire truck and police sirens. So, we walked back to the room and turned on the television and saw that a plane had hit the tower. Like everyone else we assumed it was an accident, but minutes later a second plane hit the other tower and we knew we were in trouble. We really couldn’t believe what we were seeing. We were in shock.”

After several moments Idland made her way to Times Square where thousands of people were gathered watching the news coverage on the giant screen.

A city that had just minutes before was filled with people living their everyday lives was now at war.

“From where I was standing you could see and smell the smoke,” Idland said. “It smelled like burning tires. You could see and hear the (Air Force) jets circling overhead around the city and on every corner there was soldiers from the National Guard holding guns. The mood of the entire city changed so quickly. I was scared to death. I couldn’t wait to get back to Greenville.”

Because air traffic was grounded and the bridges and tunnels leading out the city were at times closed to traffic, returning to Greenville proved to be a challenge.

“We were stuck there a couple of extra days,” Idland said. “We just couldn’t get out of the city. We finally made it out and to New Jersey and we rented a car and drove all the way back to Greenville.”

Once she made it home, Idland realized the depth of the impact the Sept. 11 attacks had on her.

“It was really emotional,” she said. “It took me a moment to catch my breath and it was probably a year before I would even really think about what had happened and what we had seen. I was afraid to fly and I was a little scared to even go out of town for a while. It really had a big impact on me, like it did everyone.”