Management

Sept. 11: Then and Now

Ten years later, the pulse of New York City is very much alive.

September 09, 2011
KEYWORDS center , federation , trade
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Crisp, cool, and cloudless is how Cliff Rosenthal recalls the start of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. “It was a day you couldn’t help but feel good in New York,” he says.

Shortly after Rosenthal arrived at the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, where he serves as president/CEO, word trickled in about a plane crash at the nearby World Trade Center. Few details were available, but most assumed there’d been an unfortunate accident involving a small craft.

“Certainly, by the time the second plane crashed we knew something very grave and serious was going on,” Rosenthal says.

At the time, the Federation was located roughly eight blocks east of the World Trade Center—and, as it turned out, downwind from the site. That became shockingly evident when the Towers came down, Rosenthal explains.

“Our building was enveloped in smoke and debris,” he says. “One of the tragic, symbolic things that struck us was when the pieces of paper blowing out of the World Trade Center offices started floating past our windows and over the East River toward Brooklyn.”

Also stunning was viewing the mass exodus from Manhattan as tens of thousands of people marched north on FDR Drive, fleeing the city and seeking the safety and comfort of home.

Still, Rosenthal and some Federation staffers stayed at the office, attempting to work and reporting what they witnessed to CUNA until phone service and e-mail went down.

“What was so striking was that there was an immense cloud and all this debris, and after a while it cleared and the sky seemed clear again,” Rosenthal says. “It wasn’t quite as if nothing had happened, but it was kind of a bitter irony.”

Cliff Rosenthal
"After 9/11," says Cliff Rosenthal, "I felt like a New Yorker for the first time."

When Rosenthal eventually left the office, he walked through deserted, debris-covered streets, passing a hospital that was eerily quiet. “There weren’t many people being brought to the hospital. That was the tragedy: Everyone was prepared to give blood and treat the many, many wounded that survived. But there weren’t any.

“I walked home over the Brooklyn Bridge along with many other thousands of people. While I was walking home, I heard a third building collapse. It seemed incredible.”

It was a week before Federation staff could return to their building. It took far longer for any sense of normalcy to return.

Lower Manhattan was cordoned off, with ever-present police lines, Rosenthal recalls. Abandoned food carts dotted the streets, filled with their increasingly moldy contents.

“The ruins smoldered for weeks on end,” he says. “Anytime you walked out of the subway in that neighborhood, that’s what you were greeted with. So there certainly was no forgetting.”

Next: ‘I felt like a New Yorker’

Post a comment to this story

heroes

What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive