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The Great Boatlift of Nine Eleven [VIDEO]

A video produced and directed by Eddie Rosenstein of Eyepop Productions, Inc., shares the story of boat captains and crewmen who worked together fourteen years ago today to rescue people from lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers.  Narrated by Tom Hanks, the video includes interviews with captains and crew members of public and private boats who answered the radio call from the Coast Guard to evacuate people off of the island when hundreds of thousands of people ran south as they fled the area of the fallen towers.

The idea to organize the evacuation came when US Coast Guard Commander Michael Day witnessed a small boat becoming so overloaded with people fleeing the island that he feared it might tip over.  He then noticed that the people on shore hoping to board a boat to anywhere were packed 10 deep or more.  The Coast Guard put out the following call on the radio:

“All available boats, this is the United States Coast Guard aboard the Pilot boat, New York.  Anyone wanting to help with the evacuation of lower Manhattan, report to Governors Island.”

Within 20 minutes there were over 100 approaching boats “all across the horizon” converging on lower Manhattan.  Tugboats, ferries, private boats, party boats – said one rescuer: “If it floated, and it could get there, it got there.”

Remembering that day and the way so many people did all that they could to help, some of those involved said the following:

“No training – this was just people doing what they had to do that day.”

“You forget all about what you’re supposed to do – what they teach you in school, and you say you know what, morally, this is the right way to go, and deep down, this is what I am going to do.”

“Average people – they stepped up when they needed to.  They showed me when American people need to come together and pull together, they will do it.”

“I do feel in a way honored that I was a part of it.”

“That was the greatest thing I ever did with my life.”

“The greatest day that I have ever seen in all my boating, in my life on the water.”

Tom Hanks concludes the story with:

“The Great Boatlift of Nine Eleven became the largest sea evacuation in history.  Larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II, where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of nine days.  On 9/11, nearly 500,000 civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat.  It took less than nine hours.”

Said Vincent Ardolino, Captain of Amberjack V, a private yacht available to rent for events and cruises:

“Never go through life saying ‘I should have.’  If you want to do something, you do it.”

Learn more by watching the following inspirational 12-minute video.