Terrorism Touches Stormy Lake

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Ken and Nola (Kenola Point on North East Stormy Lake Road) have a 29 year old son Cameron who's desk was at the first point of impact at the World Trade Center in New York. 

Here is his story. 

On Tuesday September 11, 2001 Cameron, graduate of Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, was 10 minutes late for his job on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center, a twist of fate that saved his life and left him bewildered. 

Normally Cameron, a systems analyst for Marsh McLennan Financial Services, would be at his desk on the north side of the north tower by 8:30 a.m. But on Monday night, after putting his 16-month-old son William to bed, he forgot to set his alarm. 

It was about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday when he stepped off the subway and started winding his way through the shopping concourse beneath the trade centre. 

Just before he reached the glass doors to the lobby, Cameron saw a cloud of smoke coming at him and heard people yelling "Bomb!" 

At 8:45 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 had slammed into the north side near the top of the 110-storey north tower. 

But Cameron had no idea what had happened. Believing the smoke was some sort of chemical agent, Cameron tried to outrun the cloud underground. He avoided the escalators and sought shelter inside a bookstore with other frightened people. 

Cameron said he might have gone back into the World Trade Center if he hadn't been so intent on finding a phone so he could notify his girlfriend and his family in Waterloo that he was all right. When he had pulled himself together, he emerged onto the street just after 9 a.m., in time to see United Airlines Flight 175 slam into the south tower. 

And then he ran. Cameron recalled his desperate search for a pay phone. "Its a big joke in New York -- how you can't find a pay phone that works," he said. 

In her office at Rockefeller Center, Cameron's girlfriend Ada Chavez hadn't seen or heard the news. It took a frantic phone call from Cameron's dad Ken in Waterloo, who was watching his son's office tower burn on television, to send her to her office window. Then she saw the gaping hole in the north tower. 

It took Cameron half an hour to find a pay phone, and then he didn't even have a quarter to pay for the call. People offered him their cellphones, but they weren't working. 

He had to beg nickels and dimes from a man running a coffee stand. After calling his girlfriend, he jumped into a taxi and yelled at the driver to get him to Rockefeller Center. 

In the taxi, Cameron paged four or five of his co-workers, but only one woman responded. She had also been late for work that day. 

Once Cameron met up with Chavez, they ran across town to get on an express bus out of Manhattan. They picked up their son from his daycare and were safe at home by 2 p.m. 

Of the 350 people he worked with, only 126 have been accounted for. 

Cameron began working at Marsh in October 1999 and said his co-workers used to joke about fires and terrorist attacks all the time. 

"I'm not walking down 97 floors," he remembered saying once. "I'm going up to the roof to hail a helicopter." 

Though remarkably composed for someone who had been through such an ordeal, Cameron choked up when he spoke about his missing co-workers, especially his best friend. 

"I can't believe that she was meant to die for no reason," he said. 

But Cameron isn't angry at the perpetrators and said he doesn't support vigilante justice. 

"I don't have hate in my heart. I'm just really sad that this world can make somebody hate others so much." 

As Cameron's family gathered to watch the noon-hour memorial services on television yesterday at their home in Waterloo, his mother Nola said the worst thing she could imagine happening now is retaliation. She doesn't want to see a mother in Afghanistan go through what she went through Tuesday morning when she thought her son might be dead. 

"No mother should have to go through that."