9/11 survivors living on the Suncoast speak out to help others and themselves

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Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 5:46 pm | Updated: 9:53 pm, Thu Oct 10, 2013.

SARASOTA, Fla. - 9/11 is a day of reflection across the United States and the world but, what are the long term effects for first responders and those in the towers that made it out?

It was a day that we don't want to remember, it is also a day that we will never forget. Many of us in NYC on 9/11 experience emotional and physical scars that may never heal.

Suncoast resident Daniel Hoffe was in the south tower when the first plane hit the north tower. "I remember looking up and it looked like a ticker tape-parade," He said, "You saw all these documents pouring out of the sky and this black sooty smoke coming out and then I remember looking down and seeing fire and burning debris beneath me." He continued, "So when the north tower got hit you heard an explosion and it actually cracked windows all the way down to where we were"

Garrett Lindgren was a NYC firefighter of 'Rescue Company 3' in the Bronx.

"I was going over theTriborough Bridge to the firehouse in the Bronx and I looked to my left and the North tower of the World Trade Center was on fire." It happened fast. "Less than five minutes later there was about eight floors of heavy fire in a fireproof high rise building."

At this point he he knew something was terribly wrong. "One of my first thoughts then was a lot of us are gonna get killed today."

Hoffe said people were packed into the stairwell like sardines, "I remember going down and it was like ninth floor it hasn't fallen yet, eighth floor cause dust was actually coming off the concrete above us."

Sights, sounds and smells trigger memories that transport those suffering traumatic events back in time. Hoffe said, "Every day, for whatever reason I always seem to be looking at the clock or noticing it when its nine eleven in the morning or, 9/11 at night"

Many others are affected today from 9/11. Michael Fitzgerald, Medical Director of Serenity Place at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota said, "There are many triggers that continue to be a part of the persons reality, and, so when somebody experiences a trauma like this it is recreated in their minds based on many different events. '

And there is survivors guilt. "Everyone I had coffee with in the firehouse rescue four in Queens that morning that responded was killed right after I left them." Said Lindgren, "And everybody that was on duty in my firehouse in the Bronx Rescue Company 3,all of them were killed"

Many that survived 9/11 are still plagued with PTSD, but, there is hope, said Fitzgerald. "Whenever anyone experiences a traumatic event it is always a good idea to get professional help especially if its impeding the quality of your life and your every day life."

Both men take the opportunity to speak whenever the opportunity arises, but for them 9/11 is always present.

Hoffe said, "Part of me will always be trapped in the stairwells."

I will always remember a sea of people walking up Broadway where I sat listening to people expressing feelings of no hope.  Women carried shoes in their hands, men carried jackets and briefcases, it was wall to wall and the city was in shock.

Other images forever in my mind were of a French magazine my friend brought back with unedited photographs including one of a young woman in a skirt holding the hands of two men, on on either side of her.  They were mid-air free falling, after what may have been just a second and, after making what must be an impossible decision.

9/11 was not a movie of the week, a story in a book or a figment of ones imagination. 

It happened.  

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