A Guyanese Immigrant 9/11 Survivor Remembers 10 Years Later

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 9, 2011: For Guyanese immigrant Rawle Persaud, the approaching tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York brings back fearful memories of being chased by a huge cloud of dust after the collapse of the first tower at the World Trade Center.

“It feels like yesterday. I can’t believe it’s been ten years,” Persaud told News Americas last night, two days ahead of the anniversary of the worst tragedy to hit America, which claimed some 3,000 lives.

The courier service employee remembers sitting at his desk in the lobby level of 3 World Financial Center at American Express and getting a call of a plane flying into the World Trade Center.

But he says he dismissed it as an accident by a small plane until New York City detectives entered the building and told everyone of a terrorist attack and urged all to “evacuate.”

Persaud said he quickly took the elevator up to the main lobby of the building and exited, walking across to the corner of Fulton and Nassau streets where his company had another office.

“Then as I was standing there, I heard someone scream and then looked up and saw one of the towers coming down,” reminisced Persaud.

Before he knew it, the Guyanese national said a ton of ash and dust began coming towards him and he took off running, quickly bandying a handkerchief over his nose and heading towards the South Street Seaport with dust clouds in hot pursuit.

“I remember a lot of other people running beside me and past me screaming and everyone was covered with ash and dust,” said Persaud. “I was scared. I didn’t know what was happening or how I was going to get home but I kept positive and refused to think I would die.”

Persaud said once he made it to Water Street, away from most of the dust and ash, he tried to use his cell phone or walkie talkie but “nothing worked.”
While he remembers a lot of people walking towards the Brooklyn bridge, “but I began walking Uptown, towards 47th and 8th Avenue to our main office.”
“When I got there some other co-workers were leaving and were driving to Queens so got a ride home. So I got home about 3:30 from 10 something that morning,” said Persaud.

Ten years later, the now 30-year-old Persaud can’t quit counting his blessings at being spared death and the side effects of the attack.

“I consider myself pretty lucky as when I was walking I didn’t, know if another plane was going to hit or if those buildings were going to fall,” said Persaud, who added he also is lucky he never got covered in dust or ash so there are no side effects like bouts of coughing and lung diseases that many survivors face.

But despite the sadness the memory of September 11, 2001 holds for him, Persaud said he’s happy to see the rebuilding effort on the site.

“I was down there a few weeks ago and took a picture of the towers being rebuilt and I felt happy,” he said, adding he would probably go visit it and see what The Memorial Museum is like.

The 9/11 Memorial will be dedicated on September 11, 2011 the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in a ceremony for victims’ families. It will open to the public on September 12, 2011.

And despite the overflow of security in the city and subways, Persaud says this makes him feel “much safer.”
“It seems a lot more security now but I think it should be. I don’t think it’s over doing it. I don’t feel like we’re going to get any attacks any time soon because of this. It’s much safer,” he added.