“I couldn’t see. It was the darkest that you could ever imagine. If you put a blindfold on and closed your eyes at the same time, it was about that dark.”—Ernesto Butcher, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Chief Operating Officer and 9/11 survivor recalling his experience after the collapse of the South Tower
As electrical power wavered and failed at the World Trade Center and in nearby buildings on September 11, flashlights played a crucial role. Remembering darkened corridors and stairwells when the World Trade Center was bombed on February 26, 1993, many people evacuating from the towers on 9/11 had made it a habit to carry small flashlights with them. Others, trained as fire safety wardens, were equipped with flashlights issued by the Port Authority.
After the collapse of the towers, these battery-powered portable lights became lifelines for individuals suddenly forced to guide themselves and others to safety through the blinding dust and treacherous debris. Flashlights were also a powerful tool in the hands of professional first responders searching for survivors.
The flashlights in this feature represent a selection donated to the Collection by survivors and first responders. Some were recovered from the debris at Ground Zero.