by Trent Rosser
“There was no falling or tumbling when the building
collapsed, it was like the wall just fell on top of us.”
~ Genelle Guzman-McMillan~
September 11, 2001 is a day that the nation will mourn for ages to come. On that fateful day, America was attacked. Terrorist hijacked 4 planes, one crashed into the Pentagon, 1 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, and 2 hit both towers of the World Trade Center. Genelle Guzman-McMillan was working for the Port Authority on the 64th floor of the North Tower when disaster struck. After a while Genelle and her friend Rosa (along with others) started to make their way down the staircase. While on the 13th floor, Rosa let go of Genelle’s hand and the walls came down. The 110 story building collapsed. Alone, darkness set in as the sound of a thousand earthquakes came to a dull roar and then thundering silence set in. Genelle was pinned underneath 27 feet of concrete, and steel. Minutes pass like hours and hours passed like days. She was quoted as saying that it seemed like forever. Alone, afraid and in total darkness, she began to pray.
Genelle was asking God for another chance. She was not much into church like her mother, she want to have fun and did not want to be confined by a church or religion. But now she was in trouble. She could feel cold and then heat; she still could not see and did not know if it was from the sun setting and rising or fires from the wreckage that she was still trapped in. She knew deep in her heart that they would never find her. Then the miracle arrived. Paul grabbed her hand and said “I am here Genelle, just hold on”. Paul and Genelle talked and Paul gave comfort to her and held her hand the entire time. Finally he told her that he had to let go and another rescuer was there. He let go of her hand and someone else grabbed her hand and started to talk to her as they cleared the debris off of her. After 27 hours buried under 27 feet of rubble, Genelle was rescued. As soon as she was loaded into the emergency vehicle, the rubble collapsed further down. Genelle had a crushed leg and after many surgeries they were able to save it from being amputated. Genelle wanted to meet Paul. Paul was her rescuer and he is the one that kept talking to her and kept her alive. He is the one that told her to hold on and not to give up. After countless inquires, it has become known that there was no rescuer by the name of Paul, and no one can claim that he was the one that was holding her hand for that entire time. I had asked about some of her rescuers including the dogs sent in to help find survivors. She only remembers Paul. Genelle asked for a miracle to save her life and God sent her an Angel.
I had the pleasure to meet Genelle the other day to do an interview with her. I have met a few celebrities and am usually nervous meeting new people, especially if they are in the lime light. But when I met Genelle, I felt a peace and serenity. I did ask a few questions and we talked quite a bit. A quick interview turned into an hour and half of just sitting back and talking. I learned a lot from Genelle. I learned that no matter what happens, it is not our job to judge. I had to ask her if she had forgiven the people or if she still has animosity towards those people that did this. Her reply was “I will forgive, but I will not forget.” She has come to terms with the tragedy and losing her friend, Rosa, and coworkers. I had also asked about some of her rescuers including the dogs sent in to help find survivors. She only remembers Paul.
On the 10th anniversary of the attack, Genelle had a book published about her ordeal. It is called “Angel in the Rubble” Every year she is asked to speak at an event, and this year Mark Phillips with Overcomers Now was able to get Genelle to speak at Happy State Bank last Monday on the 16th anniversary of the attack. Mark had overcome a motorcycle accident and was the first one to ask Genelle to speak this year for Overcomer Now. She was also selling the book and spoke for a limited audience at Sam Houston Jr High on Tuesday. Genelle has made good on her promise to God. She is traveling the country and telling her story. She has been the inspiration for many people and will continue to be an inspiration. Now we did give her a little bit of a hard time: she did not know where Amarillo was. She never heard of a 72 ounce steak, or of Cadillac Ranch. It wasn’t until Mark mentioned, “It was where Oprah had her lawsuit.” She was a good sport about it and I wish she could have seen more of the panhandle and the people of the panhandle.
I considered myself lucky to be able to do the interview. Not only did I get the interview, but I got to interview her exactly 16 years to the day that this happened. 16 years ago, I was watching the attack on America, and on this day I was sitting next to and having a conversation with the last person that the rescuers pulled out of the remains of the Twin Towers. I was lucky and then she told me that people would tell her that she was lucky. She told me that it was not luck! She said that luck is needing something simple and it was right there. Her surviving the plane hitting her building, her surviving the collapse of the tower, it was not luck. It was a miracle. A miracle that she survived and God sent an angel to help her: an angel named Paul.