Book Review: American Dunkirk, The Waterborne Evacuation of Manhattan on 9/11

The pilot boat New York underway off Lower Manhattan on September 11 2001When the World Trade Towers collapsed, as many as a million New Yorkers found themselves trapped on the southern tip of Manhattan. Mass transit was shut down. The bridges and tunnels were closed and a significant portion of Lower Manhattan was shrouded in smoke, ash, and debris from the still burning wreckage of the collapsed towers. Many walked north. As many turned toward the water. Then, through the smoke and drifting ash, something amazing happened. Boats started to arrive along the waterfront to rescue those stranded by the attacks. There were ferries, tugs, dinner boats and fishing boats — craft of all types and sizes. No one, including the U.S. Coast Guard knew what to make of it. Then, the Coast Guard did something equally remarkable. Rather than try to take control or to manage an evacuation that was both unforeseen and far beyond the scope of what anyone could have imagined, they let was happening, happen. The boats arriving were rescuing people, but there were so many to be rescued. They needed more boats. The Coast Guard issued a call over VHF radio for “all available boats.” And the boatlift was on. Read the rest of the review here 12:32

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