Facchina gives first-hand account of 9/11 in NYC

Lori Facchina shared her first-hand view of events in New York City during the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Ted Alexander moderated the Old Home Week Reminising session.

Lori Facchina, a four-year resident of Greencastle, has lived many places, and the memories of one still haunt her. Through tears at times, she shared her experience in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. She spoke at one of the 12 Reminiscing sessions held during Old Home Week.

In the Big Apple less than three weeks, while her fiance started work at the Eye and Ear Infirmary for the last stage of his medical degree in opthalmology, Facchina was trying to leave town for a medical appointment. The couple lived on the lower east side on 13th Street. As she drove toward the Holland Tunnel, she saw the first fire at the World Trade Center. A reporter ran up and hopped in the car, asking for a ride, and said terrorists had attacked.

"I was starting to freak out," Facchina said. With traffic halted, she returned home as the second of the Twin Towers was hit by a hijacked airplane. She hid under the covers, alone and afraid, with no way to contact her family. Steven Facchina returned for a short time, then went to St. Vincent's Hospital to help as he could. He also spent time at Ground Zero.

People went on the roof to watch the horrific scene, but the smell of smoke and burning bodies was too much. Facchina cried the rest of the day. In the evening she and Steve went outdoors, as far as 14th Street, which was blockaded. They were met by other concerned residents. "It was a big bonding experience with people you didn't even know," she remembered. "You felt like you could hug anybody on the street."

In the days that followed, people stayed indoors because the odor of burning flesh was too strong. The atmosphere in New York was "eerie," she said, as if the world could end at any time. For a long time, she saw funeral processions, as many as six a day, pass along her street, and always honorably conducted.

The couple had intended to marry on Sept. 18, but City Hall was no longer available. They determined they would not change the date because of America's enemies and by chance met a lady in Central Park. She had a clergy degree and offered to perform the ceremony. "She was an angel sent to do this for us," Facchina declared.

Once wed, the couple flew to Seattle for the honeymoon on a plane far from full. They stayed in New York for three years. Steven then set up practice in Chambersburg and Hagerstown and they settled in Greencastle. They now have two children and have visited the big city several times. Things have changed.

"Now life there is normal," Facchina said. "The sense of community is gone. This is the smallest town I've ever lived in and I thought I was a city girl, but I feel a tremendous amount of community living here."