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10 of the Biggest Disasters in the History of New York City Blog Series: 9/11 Attacks

In this month’s edition of our 10 Biggest Disasters in the History of New York City blog series, we are covering a major tragedy that not only shook the city of New York, but the entire world.  The September 11 attacks had a deep, lasting impact on New York City and the reverberations of these terrorist attacks are still felt to this day.

The September 11 attacks were a largely televised tragedy so the images from that day are scorched into the memories of those who watched the events unfold on the news.  The attacks were also a defining moment of a generation.  Like with the assassination of John F. Kennedy that occurred decades before it, everyone remembers where they were when they first heard about the attacks on 9/11.  Many Americans spent the afternoon and evening of that fateful day watching the news coverage, horrified by what they saw.

In total, three separate attacks involving four hijacked planes occurred on September 11, 2001, resulting in nearly 3,000 deaths, more than 6,000 injuries, and cases of respiratory diseases and cancer among those who were on the scene.  The attacks occurred at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a field in Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 went down.  It is important to remember the victims in all of the affected locations as well as the brave first responders, some of whom gave their lives responding to the deadliest attack on U.S. soil.

For our purposes, we are going to focus on the September 11 attacks that took place at the World Trade Center in New York City.  These are the attacks that were broadcasted by news outlets to TVs across the nation and that resulted in the most casualties.  This has been a difficult tragedy for Americans to process, especially New Yorkers, but we believe it is important to never forget and honor the victims and the first responders as we once again pass the anniversary of the attacks.  A new generation of Americans has been born since the attacks occurred, but for those who remember September 11, the memories of what we saw that day will endure for the rest of our lives.

ServiceMaster Restoration by Complete opened for business in Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY the year the September 11 attacks occurred.  We are prepared to provide fast and efficient disaster restoration services for homes and businesses following any type of disaster including fires, floods, and major storms.  No matter the extent of the damage, you can count on our expert technicians to respond when our community needs us the most.

Lead Up to 9/11 Attacks

The root of what inspired the 9/11 attacks may go as far back as the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.  This invasion brought Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan to help the mujahideen fight off the Soviets who invaded Afghanistan to support the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, a communist party that took over the country by coup in 1978.

The Soviet-Afghan War lasted from December 1979 to February 1989.  Throughout the conflict, the mujahideen was backed by the U.S. in their effort to fight the Soviet invaders.  The Soviet Union withdrew in February 1989, but the communist government backed by the Afghan Army continued to fight the mujahideen in a civil war that lasted until the War in Afghanistan began in 2001.  In 1996, the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul and ruled Afghanistan until they were ousted by the United States in October 2001.  In the late 1990s, the Taliban allowed bin Laden and al-Qaeda to take refuge in Afghanistan.

Motivation for the Attacks

During the 1990s, bin Laden became agitated by American foreign policy and the presence of American troops in the Middle East.  He declared a holy war against the United States in 1998 that advocated for the death of Americans.  In that same year, bin Laden and al-Qaeda began planning the attacks that occurred on 9/11 and recruited jihadists to participate in the attacks.

Intelligence of the Attacks

Evidence suggests that U.S. intelligence had some prior knowledge that the attacks would occur.  Members of the CIA and FBI reported suspicious activities, such as the presence of two known members of al-Qaeda in the U.S. who were hijackers on 9/11, meetings that occurred between members of al-Qaeda, and strange occurrences at flight schools throughout the U.S.  However, due to limitations of intelligence sharing between the CIA, NSA, and FBI, no meaningful action was taken to prevent the attacks.

The 9/11 Attacks in New York City

The September 11 attacks occurred on a clear morning in New York City.  American Airlines Flight 11 which departed from Logan International Airport in Boston, MA was hijacked and flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am.  United Airlines Flight 175, which also departed from Logan International Airport, hit the South Tower just 17 minutes later.  The plane that hit the South Tower was seen on live news broadcasts and is one of the enduring images of this tragedy.

The South Tower was the first tower to collapse at 9:59 am and the North Tower collapsed about half an hour later.  The collapsing of the towers brought down dangerous debris onto surrounding buildings, leading to the fire and collapse of the 7 World Trade Center building.  The dust and debris that included high levels of asbestos spread throughout the surrounding streets and exposure to these elements caused health issues later for many survivors and first responders.  The collapse of each of these buildings was captured in the news coverage.

The attacks on the World Trade Center resulted in 2,606 deaths including civilians, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and military personnel.  Many people died within the towers, either due to the impact of the planes or the collapse of the buildings, and around 200 people jumped to their deaths from the towers.  On the ground, 411 first responders lost their lives fighting fires and digging people out of the rubble.  The brave first responders spent the next several months looking for survivors and putting out fires, the last of which was finally extinguished over three months later on December 20.

The 9/11 attacks caused immense damage in Lower Manhattan.  Both of the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center station under the Twin Towers, the Marriott Hotel (3 WTC), and 7 WTC were completely destroyed.  Surrounding buildings such as 4 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, and the Deutsche Bank Building were heavily damaged.  Several other surrounding buildings also suffered damage from the attacks and Deutsche Bank Building was eventually condemned and demolished.  The total value of the losses on 9/11 totaled more than $100 billion.

Aftermath of 9/11

In many ways, we are still feeling the effects of the September 11 attacks.  What happened in the aftermath of the attacks continues to have wide ranging effects throughout the world.

Government Policies

The U.S. Government reacted by passing laws designed to increase the security of the nation and avoid another serious terrorist attack.  In 2002, the U.S. government enacted the Homeland Security Act which created the Department of Homeland Security as well as the USA PATRIOT Act which gave the government more power to investigate and detain possible terrorists.  The U.S. government also broadened the powers of the National Security Agency (NSA) which included warrantless surveillance of communications between people in the U.S. and people overseas.

As far as air travel safety, the government passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act which gave the responsibility of airport security to the federal government.  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was also created with this act.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made sure that airplane cockpits were reinforced to prevent planes from being hijacked like they were on 9/11.

While these measures were taken by the U.S. government to make air travel safer and prevent such a catastrophic attack, they are not without controversy.  Many critics argue that these laws give the government the power to invade the privacy of American citizens without a warrant.  Even with the backlash, these laws still stand.

War on Terror

The September 11 attacks were the catalyst for the beginning of the War on Terror.  Former president George W. Bush declared a War on Terror with the purpose of bringing bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice for the attacks.  The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists was passed by Congress on September 14, 2001, just three days after the attacks, which gave the president the authority to use force against those who were involved with the 9/11 attacks as well as those harboring terrorists.  This law is still in effect.

The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001 as U.S. and British forces started bombing campaigns of al-Qaeda and Taliban camps.  An invasion of ground troops soon followed, and the Taliban was overthrown on December 7, 2001.  The conflict between the Taliban and NATO backed forces is still ongoing as the U.S. continues to be involved in this war.

Cultural Effects

The September 11 attacks had a major effect on Americans across the U.S. as general feelings of paranoia and anxiety increased and a strong sense of patriotism emerged.  The feelings of anxiety caused by the attacks found their way into music, television, film, and literature.  Certain songs, TV shows, and movies ceased to be played if they contained themes that hit too close to the attacks.  The attacks also gave rise to 9/11 conspiracy theories that are still spread and believed by some.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 are the deadliest attacks ever to occur on U.S. soil and the only major foreign attack to occur since Pearl Harbor.  It is only natural that the U.S. and its citizens were deeply shaken by these attacks and our lives continue to be affected by the reverberations of these attacks every day.

Disaster Restoration in Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY

On the anniversary of 9/11, we should remember those who lost their lives, the brave first responders who put their lives at risk and even lost their lives to save others, and the resiliency of our nation to recover from such a devastating attack.  The response to the attacks showed our strength as a nation and that we will never be undone by heinous acts, but instead rise from the rubble and ashes.

As leading providers of disaster restoration services in Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY, we deeply appreciate the actions taken in the aftermath of the attacks as people worked around the clock to save lives and rebuild the World Trade Center.  We also understand that disasters can happen at any time on a much smaller scale, including flooding, fires, and severe storms that can damage your property and disrupt your life.  Our technicians are always ready to serve those in Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY with quality disaster restoration services to quickly get your lives back on track.