All Available Boats:
Harbor Voices from 9/11
Produced by David Tarnow
Responding to Coast Guard’s call for “all available boats,”
tugs, ferries, harbor pilot and other vessels assemble off Battery Park in Lower
Manhattan to begin the evacuation.
for larger view.
Notes from David Tarnow
“All Available Boats: Harbor Voices from 9/11″ consists of a series of
interviews with members of New York’s maritime community and it documents
their response to the attack on the World Trade Center and their role in
the subsequent evacuation of Lower Manhattan. Since the bridges, tunnels
and subways were closed off, the water suddenly became the only way out.
The Coast Guard enlisted all available boats to evacuate an army of walking
wounded and terrified office workers and to bring rescuers and supplies
onto the island. What emerges is the story of a collective effort of
selfless dedication on the part of these previously invisible waterfront
hands. These are the people who made this evacuation possible (perhaps the
piece should be re-titled “Dunkirk on the Hudson”).
The interviews were commissioned by the South
Street Seaport Museum for a permanent archive documenting the event and they
form the basis of an interactive exhibit currently on display. I worked very closely with
South Street Seaport’s senior historian Steve Jaffe to make sure to show that
the expertise, teamwork and ability to improvise under pressure were qualities
practiced by these people in their daily working lives. Many of the interviewees
had approached the Museum with written accounts and when it came down to it they
were both eager and reluctant to talk. Eager to get the story off their chests
and reluctant to having to relive the horror of that day.
The retired New York City fireboat John J. Harvey helped in
the evacuation and then helped supply water to fire department hoses at
Ground Zero when water mains were knocked out. Harvey’s crew includes (from
left) Jessica duLong, Tim Ivory, Huntley Gill and Robert Lenny.
Photo: Andrew Garn
About David Tarnow
David Tarnow has been producing radio documentaries since 1968. His work
has been broadcast on CBC, BBC, ABC (Australia), Swedish National Radio &
VPRO (Netherlands). He has been a regular contributor to NPR’s “Jazz
Profiles.” Oral histories frequently form the basis of his work. David is currently producing an documentary audio book for the United Nations based on interviews with Nobel Peace Prize Laureates entitled “Nobel Voices for Disarmorment.”