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

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. I was five minutes from heading to the airport when they shut it down...heading to Nashville. -- George Kovacik

Went to work at the [art] gallery, saw the news, locked the door, drove to school where my kids were, took them to the ex-husbands house where his wife was waiting with her daughter... it was a strange alternative family bonding experience) sat glued to the TV like a zombie all day and kept thinking about all the firemen still in the second tower. Watched it fall. -- Michelle Marie Engelman Berns

I was driving down Richmond to work and the normal morning zoo guys sounded weird an ominous and were saying things like "can't believe this happened" and "a real tragedy" etc. In the time it took me to get to work they didn't really explain what they were talking about and then I walked into work and the head of the company was walking around telling everyone to go home and be with their families and I was confused and had to ask someone what the hell was going on. -- Bernard Schreiber

When i saw the second plane hit..live on TV..i immediately went and picked [my daughter] Careisse up from school. i thought they would for sure hit Houston or at least Texas City. -- Leesa Harrington-Squyres

I was a home bound teacher at the time. I was at a student's home when the planes hit. After the second plane crashed into the tower, I said in a whisper w/o thinking and in disbelief, "We are under attack. " Then I told the student to call her parents and tell at least one of them to come home. I too felt that the Houston Ship Channel would be next. -- Ada Fay Peters I remember interviewing airline execs and officials at IAH about how weird it was with no planes arriving or taking off. They described the runways and radars as "empty for the first time....ever." "Surreal and spooky." -- Paul Pendergraft, KUHF

I was working at Southwest Wholesale Music Distributors. I called a friend of mine at Dig Daddy Records in New Jersey and she gave me play by play over the phone as the towers fell. -- Charlie Chavaria

I feel so stupid. I was sitting in my car waiting for John [Granato] and Lance [Zierlein to debut my Moochie Norris song, the follow-up to AirBull, the Matt Bullard song. They started talking about planes and buildings and I was like, "jeesh. Shut up and get to the Moochie Song!" Then, um, the Moochie song seemed really petty. -- Chance McLain

It was the first day of school and I was getting ready. My mom was yelling in the living room. I walked into the living room just as the second plane hit. I was putting on make up and my hands just froze in midair. I had no idea what I was seeing; on the most primal level I knew it was bad. I left for school before I really knew what was going on and by the time I got out of class, the UH campus was completely empty. I called my mom and she was crying and screaming about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania, but I was still in the dark as to "why". It was fucking terrifying. -- April Brem Patrick

The boyfriend that I was living with at the time and I worked opposite shifts - he'd just come in and I was putting my makeup on - I heard him from the living room say "Oh shit..." (totally unlike him) so I ran into living room....we both stood, open mouthed as a plane hit the second tower...I was stunned even more so because I had worked in those buildings with Morgan Stanley in 1997...drove to work numb...I remember the entire Katy Freeway - everyone's faces were exactly the same - like something out of a zombie movie....it was SO SURREAL....I worked in building in Galleria area that had a foreign embassy - which occurred to me an hour after getting to the office which then in turn freaked me out even further. Felt such helplessness....even after being overseas during Desert Storm, I have never been more fearful because it was so close to home. The unknowingness (if that's a word...) -- Jody Stevens

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