Retired Norwich Township firefighter reflects on helping out at Ground Zero 20 years after 9/11

9/11: 20 Years Later

HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) – Many people remember exactly what they were doing on September 11, 2001. That includes Jeff Morales. At the time he was a Norwich Township firefighter. He’s lived in Hilliard since he was a child but still had family in New York City.

“My uncle was a postal worker and some of his route was over there by the Twin Towers,” he said.

He wanted to go to New York to make sure his family members were ok and to help. After the attacks, Morales got permission from his fire chief, gathered his Norwich Township Fire gear, and drove to Lower Manhattan.

“As a firefighter, the urgency to help, and for me it was personal. I’d been in those towers when I was little, my parents used to take us and I wanted to go see what I could do,” he said.

All of Morales’ family members who lived in New York ended up being ok. Morales ended up spending six days in the city unloading supplies and working at a first aid station. Morales also spent time searching Ground Zero with firefighters from Brooklyn, the same borough he was born in.

“It was kind of surreal just seeing the devastation and knowing that something I saw when I was little was on the ground and not being able to make sense of what was going on,” he said. “And the chaos and the look on the firefighters’ faces because they knew they were looking for missing people and they were looking for their own.”

He says one of the most memorable things he saw driving to Ground Zero were people lining sidewalks holding posters of their missing loved ones. Though this year marks 20 years since the attacks, Morales says it doesn’t feel that long.

“It really doesn’t feel like 20 years. It feels like it just happened a few years ago or something like that. But it’s just a vivid memory I have and something I live every 9/11 as most people that were there working or volunteered.”

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