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NEW YORK – That’s how National Federation of Community Development’s Executive Director Cliff Rosenthal described the scene outside the windows of the federation’s offices on Wall Street, located less than a mile – about a 10-minute walk – from the World Trade Center. Rosenthal had arrived in his office a short while before the first blast hit the Twin Towers. He, like other staffers already there, learned about the first plane crash second-hand from others who started arriving. Talking from his office on Sept. 11, he was the only NFCDCU staffer there – Rosenthal said he didn’t recall hearing the first explosion, but he couldn’t mistake the second one. “It was a loud, muffled sound,” he said. After the first Twin Towers collapsed, Rosenthal said, “A cloud of white smoke enveloped the neighborhood. The whole area was coated by white soot, like snow,” he said. “We figured the worst was over. Then the second tower collapsed and the smoke got darker. It was like night had come,” Rosenthal continued. New York’s Brooklyn Bridge is usually a popular thoroughfare that vehicular traffic shares with pedestrians. But on that day pedestrians clearly outnumbered cars and trucks after the FDR Drive on the city’s east side was closed to vehicular traffic. Meanwhile on the west side, a flotilla of ferries was transporting people across the Hudson to New Jersey. By late afternoon the city was mostly deserted, said Rosenthal. “You didn’t have to work in the World Trade Center to have been affected by this act of barbaric terrorism,” said Rosenthal. “It casts a very wide net.”

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