When Rumaisa Khawaja, a current LeClaire resident, arrived at work in Manhattan, New York on September 11, 2001, she had ten missed voicemails from her family. The questions flooded her inbox.
“I had just got to work so I was like, ‘What are you talking about? I’m fine’,” she said.
Her office was told to evacuate, and she went across the street to the nearest restaurant. After finally finding a television, Khawaja saw the second plane hit the south tower in real-time. She was in disbelief that this attack was happening in her city.
Khawaja also had not heard from her roommates that worked near the World Trade Center. She was terrified of the unknown. She said the phone lines were busy everywhere, which made it hard to make contact with her loved ones.
“So I went into an empty apartment, wondering if my roommates were okay,” she said.
She later found out they were safe, and but she will never forget seeing the aftermath.
“We went to Union Square, which [was] near my apartment, and that’s where people were having memorials, looking for family members,” she said. She described a scene of flowers, candles, and people longing to see their loved ones again. She also remembers the city, and the nation, coming together.
“There was love that came after,” Khawaja said. “People were meeting one another through trauma.”