Even 14 years later, the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, remain fresh in the memories of one Emmaus family.
In 2001, EHS senior Ashley Rivera’s mother, Denise Figueroa, worked as an associate in the Gap clothing store in Five World Trade Center; the WTC complex consisted of eight buildings overall. At the time of the attack, she was at her mother’s apartment near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Figueroa thought nothing was unusual about that day. But, when the news flash came out that something had hit the building, she had to see for herself. As she went outside to look, the second plane hit.
“Immediately, I felt fear. I didn’t think twice about getting my mom and daughter as far away from that area until I found out what was going on,” said Figueroa.
“The whole time I kept thinking ‘everything will be okay, they just need to put the fire out.’ I did not realize that as we stood there watching the building burn and sway, [complaining] about wanting it to be over with, people were dropping from the buildings. The guilt still hits me to this day,” said Figueroa.
Figueroa noted how the tragic event brought people in the city closer together.
“Although [I was] extremely sad, I never felt more proud to be an American. The way everyone came together to help each other out, the unity was incredible,” she said. “We all kept our heads up high and just kept praying for those who did not make it.”
The news spread throughout the city that they were under attack.
“At one point we all knew the first building was going to fall and [were] praying for it to just fall already, like we [wanted] the nightmare to be over with,” said Figueroa.