9/11 20 years later: Diane Sanders Hombach, Schenectady – Frantic while awaiting word | Readers remember

Diane Sanders Hombach stands beside the 9/11 memorial at Waters Edge Lighthouse in Glenville.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Diane Sanders Hombach stands beside the 9/11 memorial at Waters Edge Lighthouse in Glenville.

The World Trade Center was my office — 16th floor, Building 1. But I decided to stay home in Schenectady that day.

I was having coffee, feet up, half watching the “Today” show when the news of a plane hitting WTC came on the air.
Chaos from that point, as my boss and two teammates were in that building.

Suddenly, it got worse. My brother, a JAG Navy captain, worked at the Pentagon.

From the moment the WTC buildings fell — around 9 a.m. — and the plane crashing into the Pentagon, I heard nothing from my co-workers or my brother until around 2 p.m.

We were frantic at work (the Albany office) and at home.

My company, Empire Blue Cross, sadly lost 11 employees that day, but my boss and my two teammates made it down 16 flights of stairs and out of the building before it collapsed. Two of them walked uptown (no shoes) to Penn Station, then home by train. The other teammate walked from WTC home to Queens that day.

The plane hit the Pentagon on the Navy side, but my brother, thank God, was on the other side of the Pentagon that morning in a meeting. My brother always carries his car keys (something I did after that until I retired in 2012!) so he was finally able to head home to Maryland, but no one had cell service down there.

Finally around 3 p.m. that day, he found someone who had service. He gave the guy my number and said “Just tell her I’m OK!!” This random guy called me and said, “I am calling for your brother Robert, he is OK and on his way home to Maryland and will call you.” OMG.

My friend Lynn (who also worked for Blue Cross) and I attend the annual memorial at The Waters Edge Lighthouse in Glenville each year. Thank you, Lighthouse.

I, like millions, will never forget that day or the thousands lost, especially my co-workers.

-Diane Sanders Hombach, Schenectady

More Remembrances: We remember; The Daily Gazette’s special Sept. 11 anniversary section 

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Categories: 9/11 20 Years Later, Life and Arts

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