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Democrat Photo by Matt Youngfrau

SULLIVAN COUNTY GOVERNMENT workers anxiously and sorrowfully watch the tragedy unfolding in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Two Near Misses Are
Enough for Resident

By Dan Hust
OBERNBURG — September 14, 2001 – Obernburg resident Stuart Nalven thought he had seen it all when he experienced the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Until Tuesday.
Working for the Port Authority on the 71st floor of Tower One, Nalven was in his office suite when he heard a loud noise that just got louder.
The building then “cracked like a whip,” and nervous coworkers talked about what sounded like a “giant blowing up a big paper bag and popping it with a huge bang.”
Naturally, they went over to the windows – and were stunned when debris fell past them.
They were even more stunned when they saw a plane slam into Tower Two, exploding in a shower of sparks, steel and bodies.
“Some were still in their seats,” recounted Nalven.
And that was all the motivation his coworkers and he needed.
“Since the public address system had failed, we decided to get the hell out of there,” said the middle-aged computer programmer.
A hasty dash down the seemingly unending stairwell was complicated by increasing amounts of leaking water and the smell of jet fuel – bringing up memories for Nalven of being trapped in the smelly compartment of one of the Twin Towers’ 99 elevators during the ‘93 bombing.
On the way down, Nalven said he passed firefighters, police officers, even a man in a wheelchair on the 27th floor.
“I assume they all died,” he said from his home on Wednesday.
Exiting the stairs at the second floor, Nalven and his coworkers were met by a scene of devastation that stunned them all.
“The huge plate glass windows were blown out. The revolving glass doors were shattered, and the entire lobby was filled with water,” he recalled.
Emergency workers frantically hurried people out of the building as dust and debris began coating the plaza, and Nalven walked up several blocks before turning to see the most horrific sight of all.
Tower Two was collapsing.
“When I saw a big cloud of smoke,” he said, “we all knew we had to run.”
And so he did, all the way to a ferry on the Hudson River – one of the few ways for thousands of people to get off Manhattan Island.
Nalven stayed with a coworker at his house in Hoboken, NJ, calling his wife Lynn at their Obernburg home Tuesday afternoon to say he and all his coworkers were OK – at least physically.
“Mentally, I don’t know,” he remarked Wednesday.
Lynn Nalven, thanks to her husband’s coworker’s wife, had already heard the good news (which she asked her to repeat at first).
“I never lost hope,” she said, adding that friends and neighbors were of invaluable help and support. “My neighbors prayed . . . and were calling me all morning. I really want to thank them.”
And, of course, she’s glad her husband is safe at home.
“He feels so lucky,” she explained.
Stuart Nalven agreed but likened these two close calls to a baseball game.
“I figure three strikes – you’re out.”

Contributed Photo by Frank Konefal

STUNNED NYC PASSERSBY look at what appears to be a smoking piece of an airplane engine that fell near Canal Street not far from where the two airliners smashed into the World Trade Center Tues.

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