The Untold 9/11 Boat Lift Story

Evacuation of 500,000 people from Lower Manhattan on 9/11 by boat

Evacuation of 500,000 people from Lower Manhattan on 9/11 by boat

Following the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, a problem faced by many New Yorkers was how to get home.

I remember pictures of people walking across bridges and other images of mass migration as people tried to get home.

The boat lift of half a million people from Lower Manhattan was done by a volunteer civilian flotilla that just showed up when the call went out.  The flotilla just materialized when the Coast Guard put out a Marine Assistance Broadcast asking any vessels that could help, to please report to Lower Manhattan to help evacuate stranded commuters.

Over the horizon came a motley mixture of ferries, tugs, tour boats and other vessels all headed toward Lower Manhattan to help.  What followed was a version of controlled chaos with nobody seeming to be in charge.  The Coast Guard  told the captains to load what was safe for their vessels, not what the vessel was licensed or inspected to carry.

In the end it took around 8 hours to evacuate about half a million people from Lower Manhattan in a great show of what is good about people, who when ask, stepped up to help others.

There are many interviews on the video, many grand statements, the one that I did not see, was someone saying that they helped just because it was the right thing to do.

Executive producer was Stephen Flynn and Sean Burke, narrated by Tom Hanks.  The film premiered on September 8, 2011 for the tenth anniversary of the attacks.


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