After grabbing breakfast, she rode the elevator to the 64th floor of the North Tower to start work. Shortly after arriving in the office the building began to shake and debris could be seen floating outside the window from above.
Unaware that a terrorist had flown American Airlines Flight 11 intentionally into the north tower of New York’s twin towers, some of the workers headed for the elevators, but the elevators were not working. Office staff headed back into the office, turned on the TV, and heard the report a plane had hit the North Tower. Minutes later a second plane slammed into the South Tower. The panic started as smoke was coming into the office.
The workers began to seal the doorways with tape and wet clothing to keep the smoke at bay. An hour passed. Another loud noise and the building began to rock and shake. The South Tower was collapsing.
Get out. Get to safety. Down the stairs, 63, 60, 50, 30 and now the 13th floor. A loud explosion, and the North Tower was collapsing on top of us. I fell to the floor, my eyes and mouth filled with dust, it was pitch black. I am alive, but my right leg was pinned beneath something, my hair, in cornrows, was stuck under concrete. I heard someone was crying for help, but it soon faded.
I went in and out of consciousness. My head and right foot were swelling. I yanked my head upwards ripping the cornrows from my scalp. Bleeding and exhausted, I fell asleep. When I awoke, although I was not a believer in God I cried out, “God you have got to help me, show me a miracle, give me a second chance. Please save my life.” I fell asleep again. It was cold and I knew it was night.
The next day I heard a beep-beep from a truck backing up. People talking on walkie talkies. I cried for help seeing a bit of daylight through a small crack which I stuck my hand through. I cried for help, but no one could hear or see me. I passed out again.
When I awoke, I prayed again, “Please God show me a miracle. Please help me!” I stretched my hand through the hole as far as I could. Someone grabbed it. “Genelle, I’ve got you. You’re going to be all right. My name is Paul. I won’t let go of your hand until they get you out.” I felt peace and hope now.
I could hear people moving debris. Soon two men were pulling me out and passing me down a long line of firemen to an ambulance. 27-hours had passed since the collapse of the tower. Five weeks and four surgeries later I was on my way to recovery.
After getting out of the hospital, I started going to church, gave my life to Christ and was water baptized. I wanted to thank Paul too, the man who held my hand while they were digging me out and reassuring me it was going to be alright. I found and spoke to the firemen who rescued me about Paul, wanting to meet Paul and thank him for holding my hand during the rescue. “There’s no one named Paul on our rescue team, and no one was holding you hand as we were digging you out,” they replied.
Genelle, as the last survivor pulled from the rubble of 9/11 believes Paul was an answer to her prayer for God’s help. Who Paul was, only God knows, but a miracle took place that day. You won’t convince Genelle differently.
How about you? Do you believe in miracles? Do you need one? Just ask God for what you need.
Full account of Genelle’s story can be read in “Breakthru Prayer,” by Jim Cymbala, Zondervan Press.