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9/11 stories of survival

posted 5 Sept 2011, 11:14 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 5 Sept 2011, 11:18 ]
Ten years on, Tom Canavan, Jean and Dan Potter and William Rodriguez reflect on how the disaster forever changed their lives. Andrew Schmertz reports.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK AND WEEHAWKEN, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES  -This was Tom Canavan on September 11, 2001, as Reuters Television caught up to him.

Covered in blood and debris and with torn clothes, he described surviving the collapse of the South Tower -- and how clawed his way out.

9/11 survivor, Tom Canavan, saying

"Big boom, come down the steps and everything was fine until we got to the basement, then everything just fell in. I got trapped under there with another guy, crawled out, kept getting hit on the head, bashed all around. Finally, we crawled our way out over the rubble."

This is Tom Canavan today, visiting Ground Zero.

Physically, he's better. Emotionally, though, he is honest about the scars.

9/11 survivor, Tom Canavan, saying

"After ten years, and it seems like yesterday. The physical pain is gone, long gone. The mental pain, that anguish still is everyday, still you hear certain noises, certain smells, a plane flies over, it comes back. It'll never go away."

Canavan worked on the 47th floor in the foreign trading department of First Union Bank in the North Tower. He was leaving the World Trade Center through the concourse, when the South Tower collapsed.

He was one of twenty who was buried and managed to get out.

Canavan now volunteers at the 9/11 Tribute Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Jean Potter is another survivor who told her story in the book, "By the Grace of God, a 9/11 Survivor's Story of Love, Hope and Healing."

Potter worked on the 81st floor of the North Tower.

Her husband, Dan, was a New York City Firefighter, who was assigned to the firehouse across the street.

9/11 survivor Jean Potter, saying

"It's hard to come back because for us we feel the 3,000 souls that perished that day, but to see this magnificent tower going up, I say we rose again."

After 9/11, the Potters left New York City for a more quiet life in Pennsylvania.

Dan retired from the FDNY and now volunteers at the Red Cross.

Jean counsels women prison inmates.

9/11 survivor Jean Potter, saying

"Unfortunately we had to move from New York City as we faced the towers. We couldn't get home for weeks and when we did, it was too heartbreaking to remain

These are just a few stories from survivors who will forever be linked to thousands of others by one, terrible day.

Andrew Schmertz, Reuters