Red Cross Disaster Volunteer Annie Bynum Reflects Back on 9/11

As I reflect back on September 11, 2001 (9/11) I can remember getting that phone call from the Red Cross saying, “Annie we need you now in New York.” The next day, I was packed headed there with no hesitation.

I remember first coming into the city and feeling like I’d stepped into a war zone.  But the shocking reality was, I really had stepped into a war zone.  I see tragedy of this kind on television all the time, but to see it in person, in my own country, was absolutely mind-boggling.

But, we had no time to waste. It was very apparent the need for help. We started working immediately.  My first task was driving the Emergency Response vehicle.  We traveled the streets in the area, providing meals to any victims and responders we encountered. This seems easy, but it was a 12 hours a day process. The need was ever growing because survivors were found at any moment.  For six weeks we had a routine of searching, providing and comforting.

Then I moved to Distribution. Responders in the area weren’t able to leave, and often spent days on site looking for the deceased. We provided these relief team members with fresh clothes and shoes each day before they headed out again to look for the lost. It was here that I spent a few months setting up mobile showers, comfort kits, and food stations.

Eventually this led to me joining the Distribution team that circulated looking for surrounding residents who couldn’t reach our rescue locations. It was a nonstop assignment, and after six months of deployment I was able to leave feeling I did     my duty.

Many times though, during my deployment, it was very hard emotionally.  Some days I would be trying to comfort the hurt, and find myself crying along with them.  I was watching people lose their way of living or loved ones to this attack, and I couldn’t change that for them. What I could do, was provide them with hope. Give them love and show them they      Annie Bynum-1

weren’t alone.

It was a tragic time that will never be forgotten by millions or myself.

But it’s the strength and support each person gave that will last in my mind. And I’m very proud to say I was a part of that Red Cross team.

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