City native heard, saw WTC attacks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2001

[9/11/2001]Playwright and author Ellis Nassour, who grew up in Vicksburg, heard the first plane hit the World Trade Center this morning and then watched in horror as the second one did.

“We actually watched as the plane made a loop around the entire No. 1 building and flew right into the building,” said Nassour whose apartment is on Horatio Street in Manhattan.

His building has a rooftop deck and he, friends and neighbors had gone there for breakfast about 8:30 on what he described as “an incredibly beautiful morning, one of the prettiest ever in New York.”

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The first indication of the horror that followed was an “incredibly loud noise,” Nassour said. The group then saw smoke billowing up from the trade center’s No. 2 tower.

Like everyone else, Nassour said he thought the first impact was a horrible accident, but after the second one there was no doubt the city was under attack.

Amid the chaos, there were hopeful signs. An employee on the 86th floor of tower No. 1 called out by cell phone, Nassour said, and reported people were calm and were evacuating. Too, he said, at 9 a.m., people are beginning to fill the building. “If this had happened 30 minutes later, the loss of life would have quadrupled,” he said.

The reality of what has occurred was spreading across the city, Nassour said. “Debris is flying everywhere,” he said. “People cannot believe this happened. This is going to change all our lives forever. we realize we’re sitting ducks.”