Houston Remembers 9/11: Day of the Attacks Still Resonates with Locals

Categories: Houston 101

Photo by Michael Foran via Wikipedia
Terrifying even if you didn't live in NYC.
The morning of September 11, 2001, I was asleep upstairs at my house in the Heights. It seems like 100 years ago considering all the changes that have happened to the world and for me personally since then. As was typical, my alarm went off. It was the radio tuned to 610 AM KILT. Lance Zierlein and John Granato were the morning hosts at the time and I, in my sleepy state, overheard something about an attack in New York. I thought something had happened at the Yankees or Mets game. The more I listened, the more I realized it was much more serious.

I went into the living room to watch on TV. A few minutes later, I woke my then wife and she and I watched in stunned horror as the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

At the time, my company was contracting with ex-Mayor Lee Brown's re-election campaign. We were all told not to come in to headquarters right away, but we all sort of stumbled aimlessly in that direction anyway not knowing exactly what to do. I remember how distinctly quiet it was on the roads. It was a beautiful, slightly cool September morning and very few people were on the road. But, more than that, the skies were empty and I thought how remarkably quiet it gets outside with no planes or helicopters in the air.

When I got to campaign headquarters, I found out the Mayor was huddled in conference with officials from the federal government discussing what sounded like the insane ramblings of a conspiracy theorist: concerns over poisoning the water supply, fears of an attack on chemical refineries near Houston. Everything was on the table.

My story is unique to me, but everyone who was old enough to remember that day seems to remember it vividly even if they weren't from New York and didn't know anyone there who was in peril. I queried friends online and asked them to share some of their memories in their own words.

Side note: very few remember now, but this happened on the heels of the worst flooding event in Houston history, Tropical Storm Allison. Many were still displaced from their homes.

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Jim Porter
Jim Porter

Driving into work that morning I was listening to KTRH, and as best anybody knew then it was just a plane crash into one of the towers. I got to work, downtown, at a major energy company. We had big TVs all over the place tuned to all the news outlets because, well, we were a major energy company and that's how major energy companies decorate. So I was in the office when the second plane hit, and we all saw it, and after that nobody was really "working" any more. And shortly after the towers fell we were all sent home. And walking from the office to where I was parked, I vividly recall all the faces and the eye contact I had with everybody else going home from their jobs. Everybody's minds had been similarly boggled. Total strangers all briefly connected with each other in glances, recognizing themselves in the expressions of others. I spent that afternoon with friends at the Little Woodrows on Alabama (god rest its soul) as the sports bar with all the big TVs was now a news bar.


I had just gotten to school at Lamar HS, our teacher had the TV on for 5 mins, then started the class like normal. I was a theatre nerd, and went immediately to the theatre after my first period class and saw the rest of my theatre group backstage huddled around a radio listening to NPR like it was the 1930s or something. My mom lived in DC at the time and I DESPERATELY wanted to hear her voice. I spent the next 2.5 hours on the back steps hitting redial on my cell phone until my fingers were numb, paralyzed with terror and panic that I would never hear her voice again. Almost fainted when the call went through and she answered. The call lasted for 10 seconds before we were cut off. She said she was fine and had just left the city. I will never forget that felling. 


I also remember that morning. but what I wanted to comment on, was 2 or 3 days after, I was reading Wall Street Journal and they had articles about the day as their building very close to Towers. They wrote about a Houston business man who was there in the the 2nd tower for a meeting and they wrote how he made it out. I always wondered where that man is today ? if anyone knows him. 

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