FROM THE ARCHIVES: Students concerned for friends, family in 9/11 aftermath

Students and faculty hold hands during a prayer at the conclusion of the campus interfaith prayer service in the K-State Student Union's Forum Hall on Sept. 12, 2001. The service, which included religious experts representing five different faiths on campus, was for those wanting to spend time reflecting on the terrorist attack in New York City and Washington, D.C. (File Photo | The Collegian)

Originally published in September 2001.

By Sarah Bahari

Jennifer Bambach was filled with questions Tuesday.

Were her friends OK? How could this have happened? What if she had still lived there?

The former New York resident couldn’t help but picture the scene — thousands of people trying to evacuate the building, the streets filled with people heading to work and the mass confusion and hysteria that was sure to follow the deadliest terrorist attack ever committed on U.S. soil.

“I’m absolutely upset, shocked, worried about my friends,” Bambach said. “I’m trying to keep busy and not worry, but it’s hard.”

Bambach moved from New Jersey to Kansas in April to work for K-State Online. Previously, she worked as an online consultant at 115 Broadway, directly across the street from the World Trade Center building.

She has several friends who had worked in or around the Trade Center buildings, but she had not been able to contact any of them. She also has a friend who works at the Pentagon, who she had not been able to get a hold of.

“You can’t get through to anyone there,” she said. “All the lines are tied up.”

Bambach wasn’t alone in her frustrations. According to the Registrar’s office, about 25 K-State students are from New York, and countless faculty members and students have ties to the New York and Washington, D.C., areas.

Nathan Arnold, senior in criminology, hadn’t heard from his aunt, who worked on the 40th floor of the first Trade Center Tower, which was hit by the first plane.

“It’s looking pretty grim,” he said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but I’m kind of expecting for the worst.”

He said that when he first learned of the attack, he was in shock.

“You just never think that could happen here,” he said.

Tony Jurich, professor of family studies and human services, also has friends and family in New York and D.C.

One friend, who he had not gotten in contact with, worked only four blocks away from the Trade Center.

“Did debris and chunks of the building make it that far? I don’t know,” Jurich said. “He’s probably in the most danger. ”

Mallory Malone, junior in financial management, is from New Jersey and lives about 30 minutes away from the Trade Center. She spent Tuesday trying to contact her family, who she later learned was fine.

Now Malone is waiting to hear from her high school friends whose parents worked in or near the Trade Center. Like Bambach, she said she can’t help but visualize the scene.

“It’s emotional,” she said. “It’s weird knowing exactly where everything is and being able to picture all of it.”

Amber Wayne, junior in elementary education, was waiting to hear from an aunt who works at LaGuardia Airport in New York. She said she felt helpless but was doing her best to get through the day.

“I called my mom, and I started crying,” she said, “She told me, ‘Just Pray,’ and I said, ‘OK.’”

Wayne said she never thought anything like this would happen.

“Not of this magnitude,” she said. “We think we’re invincible and we can do anything, but we can’t.”

Bambach said she, too, was in disbelief.

“The scary part of this is these planes are U.S., and you can just imagine how they were feeling crashing right into the World Trade Center knowing the devastation it would cause,” she said.

Had Bambach still been working in New York, she said it is quite possible her building would have collapsed.

“Thank God I was here and not there,” she said.

For now, many are beginning to wonder what the implications of Tuesday’s tragedy will be.

Jurich said one student asked him if he ever thought there could be a World War III. He said maybe, but it wouldn’t be like anything before.

“It would be a nuclear war and everyone dies, or it would be terrorist actions,” he said. “I think we are seeing the latter.”