“It was huge, it was crumbling, it would die right in front of us, it was terrible.” 20 years later, the memories are still so clear and the pain still so keen. Norbert Fruteau de Laclos had just moved to New York when the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed in front of his eyes on September 11, 2001. “I climbed onto the roof of my company, and there we saw the two towers burning, the city starting to stop and the sounds of sirens in all directions… ”, recalls the Frenchman.
In the space of a few hours, this advertiser saw the horror unfold before his eyes. “We saw things that fell while wriggling. We realized that it was people who were jumping to escape the flames, ”he describes with emotion.
“Paralyzed” for a long time
Alex Jouve was also present in New York, during the attack perpetrated by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The 40-year-old was on his way home when he saw the fire that followed the impact of the plane in the first tower. He then rushed to his television set: “When the first tower fell, I couldn’t believe it. I went to my bedroom window to look. There was a kind of big cloud ”. “As if in slow motion, almost majestically, it fell vertically on itself and collapsed”, remembers Norbert Fruteau de Laclos who confides to have remained a long time as “paralyzed” that day.
“We are shocked, we cry a little bit, we don’t know how to react. Everyone feared there would be more attacks. Much like with the pandemic now, everyone was staying at home. People were afraid to take the metro, ”continues Alex Jouve. After two decades, the drama still leaves traces in the lives of the two French people. For years, Norbert Fruteau de Laclos was unable to climb into high buildings. “I was panicked,” he says.
The United States will commemorate in two days the 20 years of the attack which killed nearly 3,000 people. An “almost bizarre” moment for Alex Jouve. “The country is so divided and fractured that watching a moment when we were all united and all together… It seems to be another era, another country that no longer exists,” he sighs.