WASHINGTON (Sept. 13, 4:35 p.m. EDT) — For staffers at several Washington-area plastics industry trade associations, Sept. 11 was a day of jarring jolts, tense evacuations and frightening images.
Missy Henriksen, executive director of the Composites Fabricators Association in Arlington, Va., said she felt her building shake when the American Airlines jet struck the Pentagon 1½ miles away.
“You see this jarring and shaking,” said Henriksen. “I've never been through an earthquake, but I would imagine that's what people feel.”
Her office faces away from the Pentagon, so she said at first she thought construction equipment from a site nearby had hit the building. Within two minutes, she and her co-workers knew what had happened. CFA closed its office, and that was followed by a decision from Arlington County officials to close all high-rises.
Candy Score was watching television reports of the World Trade Center attack at the American Plastics Council office, in another high rise near the CFA office in the Rosslyn section of Arlington. She stepped out to answer a phone call and her co-workers screamed for her to come back.
From their 8th floor window, they could see smoke and fire at the Pentagon.
“It was really black and cloudy smoke, and it came up almost like a big mushroom over the Pentagon,” said Score, APC communications services manager. “Everything happened so fast that we didn't comprehend what was happening.”
No one in her office saw the plane strike, so confusion reigned. Workers were in tears. One of Score's colleague's husband works in the Pentagon, and she later learned he was safe, Score said.
Then workers from a Defense Department office a block away came through and told anyone who had a car parked in the garage under that government building, as Score did, to get the vehicle out.
“I literally ran down the ramp and jumped in the car. It was terrible — I prayed the whole way,” Score said. “That's a horrible feeling to go down in that basement after you've seen something blown up.”
APC and the American Chemistry Council, which share the same building, closed their offices Sept. 11-12. The groups told staffers to cancel any travel for the week and cancel any Washington meetings that would bring out-of-town company members in, said APC spokeswoman Laurie Kusek.
APC and ACC board meetings, which were happening simultaneously Sept. 11 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., went ahead as scheduled, she said.
CFA plans for its Composites 2001 trade show to continue as planned Oct. 3-6 in Tampa, Fla., she said. CFA did receive a call offering help from the Mexican composites association, Henriksen said.