When Suzy Davidson arrived in New York City on Sept. 12, 2001, smoke was still billowing from the Twin Towers. The rubble was so hot it melted first responders’ boots. The city was eerily quiet: Red Cross vehicles were among the few allowed on the streets. People who had suffered no physical harm were emotionally shattered.
Suzy still finds it hard to think about those days. She was a Red Cross employee at the time, a disaster specialist charged with supporting the Ohio chapters. She served in New York City first doing damage assessment, then supervising the site directors of the centers where the Red Cross saw clients.
Those clients included first responders, for whom the Red Cross operated respite centers. There the responders could take a shower or a nap, have a meal, get away for a bit from the tragedy around them.
The Red Cross provided emotional as well as material support. Red Crossers planned memorial services for the families of those killed. People not physically affected were devastated, and the Red Cross helped them deal with those invisible wounds.
September 11 changed the city, she says. “I have never been in New York City where whenever you went down the street, everybody thanked you,” Suzy says.
“America changed for the better for several months afterward. We bonded.” She thinks the attack also left the nation less naïve, feeling less safe.
On this 15th anniversary, Suzy will spend time alone, remembering where she was when she got the news, reliving those traumatic days and weeks. Ohio Red Crossers will also remember and reflect, both privately and publically. In Sylvania, Ohio (near Toledo) on Sept. 10, the Red Cross will be part of the procession that moves a 9/11 steel beam from a local fire station to a newly constructed memorial.
Red Crossers like Suzy offered crucial material and emotional support to the survivors of 9/11 and their families, and volunteers remain indispensable to carrying out the Red Cross mission. The Ohio Buckeye Region is looking especially for volunteers who would be willing and able to serve at national disasters after they have completed training. You can become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/volunteer. You can also help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.