Amite and New York firefighters Recount 9/11

Eleven years ago, now retired Captain and New York City firefighter Jimmy Walsh headed for what would become known as ground zero.

Walsh recounted his memory of Sept. 11, 2001, and the somber days and weeks that followed to a large crowd Tuesday morning in Amite at the ceremony hosted by Tangipahoa Parish Fire District No. 1 on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. He called it the most horrific situation of his career.

“Thousands of other firefighters, myself included, stopped what they were doing at that moment and headed toward the firehouses,” Walsh recalled. “We knew everybody was going to be needed.”

He described the situation as impossible, asking the crowd to imagine thousands of civilians fleeing the area, elevators not working, and bodies coming down from the top of the towers. Walsh remembers hundreds of civilians being covered in dust, dazed and confused and in a state of shock.

“I had never felt so helpless in my whole life,” he said. “It was a surreal blur. The towers were gone. They just didn’t exist anymore. There was a hole in the sky.”

Fires were burning out of control in every direction and the fire trucks — they were crushed like tin cans, he said.

“We had no equipment, we had no water and we had no direction,” Walsh said. “We just knew we had to do something. There were people up there that needed our help. There were people in trouble.”

As night fell on the city, Walsh recalled an “eerie, deafening silence.” The city was quiet — no one was around. But Tuesday, Walsh said slowly, in the days that followed, rescue turned into recovery.

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