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Context of '9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001: Primary Power Is Lost in WTC 7 When the South Tower Is Hit'

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Calvin Drayton.Calvin Drayton. [Source: Regional Catastrophic Planning Team]The electrical power in World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story office building located north of the Twin Towers, goes off around the time Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower but it comes on again after a few seconds. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. 109]
Lights Go Out When Flight 11 Crashes - Firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which has offices in WTC 7, notices when the power goes off and immediately realizes something serious must have occurred. He is in the cafeteria on the third floor of WTC 7 eating his breakfast and does not feel any vibration or hear any explosion when Flight 11 hits the North Tower (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). However, he notices the lights in the cafeteria suddenly going out. After about three to five seconds, the power kicks back in and the lights come back on.
People by the Windows Report What Has Happened - It is “very unusual for lights to go out,” Brown will later comment. [City of New York, 1/15/2002; Project Rebirth, 6/30/2002 pdf file; Firehouse, 1/31/2003] Because of his experience in “emergency stuff,” he knows immediately that “something big had just happened.” He is initially unaware of what it is but soon learns what has occurred. [Radio on the Real, 7/9/2013] The people in the cafeteria sitting by the windows facing the North Tower suddenly get up and start running, and when Brown asks them what is wrong, he is told a plane just crashed into the tower. [City of New York, 1/15/2002; Firehouse, 1/31/2003]
Elevator Stops When the Crash Occurs - Calvin Drayton, a deputy director with the OEM, also notices the loss of power. While he is going down in an elevator in WTC 7, he hears a noise that he thinks is a “transformer explosion.” The explosion “rocked the building and temporarily stopped the elevator,” he will recall. The elevator then continues down to the first floor and after Drayton gets off it he runs into a colleague who tells him there has been an explosion in the North Tower. [Greenville Tribune-Times, 9/25/2001]
Substation under WTC 7 Provides Power to the Complex - The reason the crash high up in the North Tower causes power to go off in WTC 7, which is located about 370 feet from the tower, is unclear. WTC 7 was built over an electrical substation owned by the utility company Con Edison and this substation now supplies power to the entire WTC complex. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 633] Before Flight 11 hit the North Tower, “all indications were that the power system was operating normally,” a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will state. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 643]
Workers See No Damage in the Substation - Con Edison employees are at the substation around the time of the crash. These include two mechanics who are there to perform scheduled work and are at the site when the crash occurs or arrive shortly afterward. The Con Edison employees will be at the substation until around 10:20 a.m., when it is evacuated. They will notice “[n]o fire or significant physical damage” at the substation that could have caused the power to go out, according to NIST. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 357, 640]
Power Loss Is Reportedly due to 'Collateral Damage' Caused by the Crash - According to Con Edison, the loss of power occurs because two “open/auto” feeders go off. [9/11 Commission, 2/26/2004 pdf file] (Feeders are sets of conductors that distribute power from a substation. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 637] ) According to NIST, “two of the circuits [i.e. the feeders] tripped automatically… as a result of collateral damage caused by the aircraft impact into [the North Tower].” [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 643] The power comes back on quickly because “it was rerouted automatically by computers,” according to Brown. [Firehouse, 1/31/2003] “The backup system kicked in, another feeder kicked in,” he will explain. [Radio on the Real, 7/9/2013] The power in WTC 7 will go off again at around 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 2/26/2004 pdf file; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 643]

Entity Tags: Con Edison, Timothy Brown, Calvin Drayton, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

John Odermatt.John Odermatt. [Source: Queens Gazette]New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) activates its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7. The OEM is responsible for managing the city’s response to major incidents, including terrorist attacks. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 283-284, 293] Its personnel arrived at WTC 7, where it has offices, early this morning to prepare for Tripod, a major biological terrorism training exercise scheduled for September 12 (see September 12, 2001). [Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 15 pdf file]
Staffer Is Told to Open the Operations Center - OEM Commissioner John Odermatt and Richard Bylicki, a police sergeant assigned to the OEM, heard the explosion when Flight 11 crashed into the WTC, at 8:46 a.m. (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). As they look out of the window at the burning North Tower, Odermatt debriefs Bylicki and instructs him to open the EOC for a fully staffed operation. Bylicki therefore sets about activating the operations center. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003]
Staffers Call Agencies and Tell Them to Send Their Representatives - EOC personnel start contacting agencies, including the New York Fire and Police Departments and the Department of Health, and instruct them to send their designated representatives to the center. They also call the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which they ask to send at least five federal urban search and rescue teams. [9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 293] Meanwhile, Bylicki helps the OEM’s Watch Command handle an “enormous influx” of phone calls, many of which are from senior city officials. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003]
Activation Proceeds without Any Problems - EOC personnel initially struggle to make sense of what has happened at the Twin Towers. [Wachtendorf, 2004, pp. 77] However, the activation apparently proceeds without any problems. Firefighter Timothy Brown, a supervisor at the OEM, is instructed by Calvin Drayton, a deputy director with the OEM, to go up to the 23rd floor of WTC 7 and make sure that personnel are getting the EOC up and running, and the Watch Command is being properly supervised. He goes up to the 23rd floor and first checks the Watch Command. He sees that its supervisor, Mike Lee, has things under control. Then, in the EOC, he sees Michael Berkowitz, a supervisor with the OEM, powering up all the computers and television screens necessary to handle the emergency, and beginning to notify the dozens of agencies that need to send representatives to the center. Berkowitz tells Brown he has the manpower he needs to get the center up and running. “I was very comfortable that OEM was beginning to do what we do in a major emergency,” Brown will later recall. Activating the EOC is something OEM personnel have “drilled for and drilled for and drilled for… and so we were very good at it,” he will comment. [City of New York, 1/15/2002; Project Rebirth, 6/30/2002 pdf file; Firehouse, 1/31/2003]
Center Is Designed for Managing a Crisis - The EOC, which opened in 1999 (see June 8, 1999), is a state-of-the-art facility designed to operate as a stand-alone center from which the city government can operate during a crisis. [City of New York, 2/18/2001] It is one of the most sophisticated facilities of its type in the world. It includes a communications suite, a conference room, a press briefing room, and a large number of staff offices, and has numerous computer-equipped workstations. [Disasters, 3/2003 pdf file] It has enough seating for 68 agencies to operate during an emergency. [City of New York, 2/18/2001] However, it will be evacuated at 9:30 a.m. due to reports of further unaccounted-for planes, according to the 9/11 Commission Report (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 305] Other accounts will indicate that it may be evacuated at an earlier time, possibly even before the second crash at the WTC occurs (see (Soon After 8:46 a.m.-9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Shortly Before 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Mike Lee, Federal Emergency Management Agency, John Odermatt, Michael Berkowitz, Calvin Drayton, US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Emergency Management, New York City Fire Department, New York State Emergency Management Office, Timothy Brown, Richard Bylicki, New York City Police Department

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Primary power is lost and internal alarms warn that there is no water pressure in World Trade Center Building 7 after Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003; Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 16 pdf file] WTC 7 is a 47-story office building located about 370 feet north of the North Tower. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 8/21/2008; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 2] Immediately after Flight 175 hits the South Tower (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001), it loses “primary power,” according to Richard Bylicki, a police sergeant assigned to New York City’s Office of Emergency Management, which has offices in the building. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003] Utility company Con Edison will later specify that two “open/auto” feeders, which distribute power from a substation, go off at this time. [9/11 Commission, 2/26/2004 pdf file] The feeders trip automatically “as a result of collateral damage” caused by the plane hitting the tower, a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will state. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 643] However, the building still has electricity, since, according to Bylicki, the power supply “switched to auxiliary generators.” Also at this time, Bylicki will state, the “fire alarm enunciator panel lit up, indicating there was no water pressure for fire suppression in the building.” [Bylicki, 6/19/2003] WTC 7 was built over a Con Edison electrical substation, which now provides power to the entire WTC complex. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 633] Several Con Edison employees are currently present in this substation. These employees will see “[n]o fire or significant physical damage” there before the site is evacuated, at around 10:20 a.m., according to NIST. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 357, 640] The electrical power in WTC 7 went off at 8:46 a.m., when Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower, but it came back on after a few seconds (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. 109]

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Richard Bylicki, Con Edison

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Thomas Von Essen.Thomas Von Essen. [Source: Publicity photo]The Office of Emergency Management’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in World Trade Center Building 7 is evacuated in response to a report that more commercial planes are unaccounted for. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 305] The EOC, which opened in 1999 (see June 8, 1999), is a state-of-the-art facility on the 23rd floor of WTC 7 that is intended to serve as a meeting place for city leaders in the event of an act of terrorism or other kind of crisis. [CNN, 6/7/1999; City of New York, 2/18/2001] Office of Emergency Management (OEM) officials activated it shortly after Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the WTC (see (Shortly After 8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Bylicki, 6/19/2003; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 293]
Staffers Discussed Evacuation after the First Crash - Soon after the crash occurred, officials in the EOC “began discussing with OEM staff whether or not they should evacuate the building,” according to a report by Tricia Wachtendorf of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. [Wachtendorf, 2004, pp. 77] Richard Rotanz, deputy director of the OEM, and some other officials in the EOC conducted a “threat analysis” after the second hijacked plane crashed into the WTC, at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Urban Hazards Forum, 1/2002]
Staffers Want to Stay in the Operations Center - Personnel are reluctant to leave the EOC because in it they have “a tremendous amount of resources at their fingertips” and they are “best able to handle an emergency of this scale,” Wachtendorf will later write. Furthermore, there is no clear procedure to move to or establish an alternative operations center if it is abandoned. “I couldn’t think of where we would go if we left the EOC because at that time we didn’t have a backup facility,” one official will recall. There is, in fact, “no formalized evacuation plan for the EOC,” according to Wachtendorf. [Wachtendorf, 2004, pp. 77-79]
OEM Deputy Director Orders the Evacuation - However, Richard Bylicki, a police sergeant assigned to the OEM, was told during a call with the FAA that at least one other plane, in addition to the two that hit the Twin Towers, is unaccounted for and possibly heading for New York (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), and he passed this information on to Rotanz. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003] Rotanz was given the same warning by a Secret Service agent who works in WTC 7. [Urban Hazards Forum, 1/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 305] Based on this information, he “surmised that [WTC 7] was potentially the next target,” Bylicki will recall. He consequently now orders all OEM employees to leave the building. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003; 9/11 Commission, 4/7/2004] A Secret Service agent, presumably the one who told Rotanz about the additional unaccounted-for planes, also reportedly advises EOC personnel to evacuate. He says, “There’s a reported third plane headed toward the East Coast and we’re warning everybody to vacate the building,” Fire Department Captain Abdo Nahmod will recall. [Journal of Emergency Medical Services, 9/2011, pp. 42 pdf file]
Some Liaisons Have Come to the Operations Center - Various city agencies were contacted after the EOC was activated and instructed to send their designated representatives to the center. None of these representatives have arrived by the time the EOC is evacuated, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. [9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 293, 305] However, contradicting this claim, a number of emergency responders will recall arriving at the EOC before it is evacuated, to serve as representatives for their agencies. [City of New York, 10/11/2001; City of New York, 10/25/2001; City of New York, 12/4/2001; Journal of Emergency Medical Services, 9/2011, pp. 42 pdf file]
Staffers Are Initially Slow to Leave - Personnel reportedly do not initially respond to the evacuation order with a sense of urgency. They “calmly collected personal belongings and began removing OEM records,” a report by the Mineta Transportation Institute will state. But they are subsequently “urged to abandon everything and leave the building quickly.” [Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 16 pdf file] After evacuating from the EOC, they assemble in the lobby of WTC 7 and await further instructions over radio. [Bylicki, 6/19/2003] Most of them think they are only temporarily abandoning their facility and expect to return to it later in the day. They do not anticipate WTC 7 being affected by fires (see 4:10 p.m. September 11, 2001) and then collapsing late this afternoon (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Wachtendorf, 2004, pp. 84]
Fire Commissioner Will Be Surprised That the Center Is Evacuated - Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen will be surprised when he finds that the EOC has been evacuated, since the center was designed for dealing with a crisis like the one currently taking place. “I thought that was where we should all be because that’s what [it] was built for,” he will comment. He will arrive at WTC 7 looking for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani shortly before 9:59 a.m., when the South Tower collapses (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). When he learns that the EOC has been evacuated, he will think: “How ridiculous. We’ve got a 13-million-dollar command center and we can’t even use it.” He will say in frustration: “How can we be evacuating OEM? We really need it now.” [Essen, 2002, pp. 26; Fink and Mathias, 2002, pp. 230]
Time of the Evacuation Is Unclear - It is unclear exactly when the EOC is evacuated. The order to evacuate is issued at “approximately 9:30” a.m., according to the 9/11 Commission Report. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 305] But, according to a report by the National Institute of Standards of Technology, the evacuation occurs slightly later than this, at “approximately 9:44 a.m.” [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. 109] Other accounts will suggest it may even have taken place before the second attack on the WTC occurred (see (Soon After 8:46 a.m.-9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Shortly Before 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Barrett and Collins, 2006, pp. 34; Dylan Avery, 2007] Many people in the rest of WTC 7 left the building earlier on, around the time of the second attack (see (9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 pdf file; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 9/2005, pp. 109]

Entity Tags: Office of Emergency Management, Richard Bylicki, Thomas Von Essen, Richard Rotanz, Abdo Nahmod, US Secret Service

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Fred Simms.Fred Simms. [Source: Con Edison]After the fire department informs it that Building 7 of the World Trade Center could collapse, New York power company Con Edison shuts off power to this building. [9/11 Commission, 2/26/2004 pdf file] Con Edison has a major electrical substation on the first and second floors of WTC 7. [New York Times, 9/11/2002; National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 5] Its representatives who had been in WTC 7 did not think that the building would come down. But, at 4:15 p.m., Con Edison emergency field manager Fred Simms speaks to the New York Fire Department and then tells his company’s headquarters that the fire department thinks WTC 7 will collapse. The fire department then asks Con Edison to shut down the power to WTC 7, which it does. [City of New York, 6/13/2002; 9/11 Commission, 2/26/2004 pdf file] Electric power to Con Edison’s lower Manhattan substation at WTC 7 is shut off at 4:33 p.m. [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. 303] Also around this time, people are evacuated from the area around WTC 7, due to concerns that the building could collapse (see (4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [Kansas City Star, 3/28/2004] WTC 7, a 47-story tower located just to the north of the main WTC complex, will come down at 5:20 p.m. (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [National Institute of Standards and Technology, 11/2008, pp. xxxv] The Con Edison electrical substation below it will be destroyed in this collapse. [New York Times, 9/11/2002]

Entity Tags: Con Edison, New York City Fire Department, Fred Simms, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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