IT may be a decade on, but for Selkirk resident Sandra Earsman, the events of September 11, 2001, are as clear in her memory as if they happened yesterday.
Ten years ago, she was one of a number of Borderers sitting worrying about loved ones who might have been caught up in the terror attacks on the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre.
Nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists had hijacked four American passenger jets, two of which they intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center, leading to both towers collapsing within two hours.
Hijackers crashed a third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. When passengers attempted to take control of the fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, it crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, preventing it reaching its intended target in Washington, DC. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks.
Sandra and her husband, Harry, who passed away a number of years ago, were at home in the town’s Heatherlie Terrace, anxiously awaiting news of Sandra’s sister, Doreen Katigbak and her family in New York.
Sandra’s fears were compounded by the knowledge that as a New York police officer, nephew Jason, could well be caught up in the ensuing collapse of the towers.
Brother-in-law Victor, an accountant, was also not far away, with an office close to where the twin towers once stood.
Sandra’s niece, Tracy, also worked in the Long Island/Manhattan area.
Thirty hours after the attack in 2001, Sandra told TheSouthern she was “worried sick”, after repeated phone calls to her sister’s home brought no answer.
Doreen, now 64, left Selkirk when she was 18 to set-up home in the United States. She and sister Sandra have not seen each other since before the twin towers attacks.
But all that will change next month when Sandra jets out to New York for Jason’s wedding.
Sandra says the wedding will be a happy family occasion but she is sure the shocking events of 10 years ago will not be completely forgotten.
“It was such a terrible thing that happened, I’m sure everyone in New York will be recalling the events of September 11 over the next few weeks,” she told TheSouthern.
“I remember ringing and ringing Doreen’s telephone number and being worried sick when we couldn’t get a reply. It was only later that I found out I’d been ringing the number of their house in Florida by mistake.”
Sandra, who will be travelling to the United States with her daugher, Fiona, who now lives in Hull, says her nephew is still a New York city cop.
“Jason was just starting out his career when the events of 9/11 took place. Doreen’s never spoken much about it. We were just so relieved when we found out they were all OK. It was a truly dreadful time.”
In a hotel just four miles from the burning twin towers was Gattonside design consultant, Hamish Carruthers, who knows New York well.
In the 10 years since, Hamish has been back and forwards across the Atlantic to the Big Apple on countless occasions for both business and to see his son who lives in the city’s borough of Brooklyn.
“I was last in New York at the end of June,” he told us. “Nobody seemed to be speaking about the 10th anniversary then – I didn’t see much in the way of publicity about it.”
Hamish says he has been impressed by the attitude of New Yorkers to rebuilding their city.
“I was at Ground Zero just six days after the attacks to lay some flowers at the memorial to the British citizens who were killed.
“To see the scale of the destruction then and see what they have accomplished in 10 years is incredible. They just buckled down and got on with it – life goes on is their attitude.”
Hamish admits the anniversary has brought back a lot of memories of the attacks.
“I think it was seeing the jumpers on the television – those poor souls throwing themselves out of windows rather than die in the fire – which upset me the most, and it still upsets me to this day when I see it.”
Friends living in the city’s Hanover Square means travelling through the subway station located right next to the site where the twin towers once stood.
“The enormity of what happened and the way New Yorkers have dealt with it has been unbelieveable,” continues Hamish. “I remember standing just a few months after the towers collapsed and seeing this huge truck with just one piece of the metal wreckage from the collapsed buildings taking up the whole of the vehicle – one long twisted piece of steel cladding from the exterior of one of the towers.
“Yes, they have had the resources but I’m not sure we would even have had the will to manage something similar in just 10 years.”