Jeff Mandell, now of Minnetonka, is a native New Yorker born and raised. He moved to the Twin Cities almost three years ago but was in New York on 9/11. He wasn’t near Ground Zero and hadn't yet left his Forest Hills, Queens apartment for work when everything began to happen.
“As I watched the city in flames and smoke and dust, different thoughts came to me,” he said.
Mandell remembers sitting in his apartment with the most helpless feeling–what could he do to help?
He posted flyers in his apartment building and on street posts asking people to go out and donate blood. The next day, he, his fiancee Erin (now wife) and some friends went to a blood bank.
“I'll never forget being turned away at the door and reading a sign that said ‘no more blood is needed,’" Mandell shared. “My friend asked, ‘what does that mean?’ Someone else overheard, started to cry and said, ‘they're all dead. Dead people don't need blood.’"
Mandell said that for the last 10 years and probably for the rest of his life, police and fire sirens will have him thinking the worst. “Sometimes, I'll hear an ambulance in the distance, and I get drawn back to that day in an instant.”
Certain images of post-9/11 New York will be with Mandell forever.
“The cascades of missing persons flyers on every street corner. The candles and flags outside of every firehouse and police station. The semi-circle of sanitation trucks three to four deep surrounding the United Nations complex. The heavily-armed National Guardsmen and Marines in the train stations, tunnels and bridges.”
Mandell and his wife were married just five weeks after 9/11 in Minnesota, where she grew up.
“We had guests cancel at the last minute because they were afraid to fly,” he said. “Not the New Yorkers though–the New Yorkers made a point to get on those planes.”
Now living in Minnetonka, Mandell has something to admit.
“As much as I hate to say it publicly, we had had enough of the constant worry,” he said. “So yes, we live here now–only partially due to 9/11–but still a large enough part to mention. Every train ride, every trip through a tunnel, every step past a potential target are all vivid reminders of what happened on that day.”
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