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Attacks on 9/11 different than Irma but with same helpless feeling

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Irma were obviously very different events with very different outcomes and occurring for very different reasons.

And yet for me, there was one similarity — I watched, worried and cried from afar.

I was driving to work on Sept. 11, 2001, and had the radio on when I learned about the first plane flying into the Twin Tower. At the office, I turned on the television and everyone in the newsroom gathered around and watched in horror as the second plane hit the other tower and it became evident there was more going on than a simple plane crash.

Work came first and I was sent out to get public reaction and write stories from those people who had friends or family in New York.

Later that night, I was able to put down the pen and paper and just be an observer. I couldn’t stop watching the news. I too had family in New York but was able to find out within a day’s time they were OK and not near Ground Zero.

I watched from Florida as the place I often visited as a child fell to the ground in large heaps of stone, cement and ashes, knowing so many lives were lost. I felt helpless like most Americans did.

Then as the days passed, stories of incredible heroism started to break through the devastation. There were stories of police and firemen who gave their lives to save others. Tales were told of countless New Yorkers who helped the injured and those who were trying to find their own loved ones.

This weekend, again I sat in front of my television — this time watching as Hurricane Irma headed for Southwest Florida, where I lived for 18 years after moving there from New Jersey in 1989.

Again, I felt helpless. My brother and his family evacuated to Georgia and several friends also left the state to seek shelter elsewhere. A friend and her daughter headed to Oxford to stay with me.

But I worried about those friends who remained. I worried they would lose their homes — or worse. I worried about those who were traveling for hours on packed roads through stormy weather as the bands started to wreak havoc a day before the hurricane made landfall.

Today, I remember 9/11. I will always remember.

Today, I celebrate that all my friends and family in Florida are uninjured.

Today, I cry for those who lost their homes.

And tomorrow, I will look forward to reading the stories of heroism that I am sure will unfold as they always do after our country faces tough times.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com.