Lucrecia Rojas, one of the former members of the popular female merengue orchestra “Las Chicas del Can” of the 1980s, survived the two Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center (WTC), the first on February 26, 1993 and the second on September 11, 2001.
At the time Lucrecia was the manager of a perfume store “Milano Perfumery” owned by a cousin of hers located on the first level of one of the towers.
In the 1993 attack, the terrorists used a van loaded with dynamite which they blew up the lower part of the towers, without causing what happened in 2001 because they were only able to shake the structure which was believed to be indestructible.
Six victims were killed and Islamic terrorists residing in the United States were held responsible, one of them, Ramzi Yousef from Pakistan who drove the van with the dynamite and managed to flee to his country where he was arrested.
The others were arrested in the United States.
That led Osama bin Laden to use the hijacked planes to hit the buildings, each more than 100 stories high and located in the Financial District where the Wall Street Stock Exchange is also located.
The artist’s account was published in the Chicago Tribune newspaper on September 3, 2011 telling what she saw and suffered during and after the terrorist assault.
She was located by this reporter in the state of Idaho where she resides with her husband and children and is a preacher in an evangelical congregation in the city of Boise.
In a message sent by facebook messenger she confirmed the story she told in 2011, ten years after the terrorist assault against New York.
He recounted that as usual he arrived at work at 7:00 a.m. on the fateful day of September 11, 2001.
At 8:46 a.m., he heard the sound that would change his life forever and made him phobic of New York.
She said people screamed that it was a bomb, fear spread throughout the building, and employees rushed for the nearest exit.
In normal times, she would reach that exit in five minutes, but amid the crowd and chaos it took her 15.
When she stepped out onto the street, she was met with a scene that gave her a shock.
“There were pieces of people on the ground,” she said. One man falling in front of her traumatized her to such a level that she couldn’t sleep again for a year.
“He never let go of the briefcase. It was like a piece of glass falling to the ground,” she added. “We human beings think we’re so strong and we’re so fragile.”
“We didn’t know about the plane crashing there, I just knew I had to run,” he said. He heard the deafening sounds of the impacts of the aircraft that the terrorists crashed into the towers.
“It took a long time for my hearing to return to normal,” he said.
She said she walked all day to her home in the Bronx, where her two children were waiting for her, not knowing whether she was alive or dead.
This was the second terrorist attack Rojas had survived at the WTC, where she had worked for 17 years.
Rojas grabbed her children and took them to the reopened airport to return to the Dominican Republic.
“I just wanted to go back to the Dominican Republic,” she said. “I was so desperate that I didn’t even realize I had to buy a round-trip ticket for my children, who are U.S. citizens,” she explained.
“I arrived at the airline counter and I was $100 dollars short to complete the ticket and I told the lady that I was a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks and I wanted to leave and a gentleman paid me what I was short,” Lucrecia recounted.
She lasted three months in her country and returned to New York where she became homeless and with numerous debts, since she left with what she was wearing.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross helped her get a place to live and pay for rent and psychological therapy for her and her children.
She recalled that she received about $25,000 in government assistance and from other private agencies.
In 2011 she said the government continued to pay her partial or full rent when she was unemployed because she was a survivor of the attacks.
But she also returned to New York on the same American Airlines plane that exploded the next day, Nov. 11, 2001 en route to the Dominican Republic, as did this reporter.
“The city was hurting me,” Rojas said.
The trauma of what he experienced on September 11 made Rojas decide not to continue living in New York.
“I don’t want to be where there are big buildings anymore,” he said. “Every time I’m there it’s reliving the same thing I went through, it’s psychological stress,” he told the Chicago Tribune.
He visited Ground Zero three times.