'We missed it by probably 10 minutes': reflecting on 9/11 after 17 years

Courtesy: Keith Tampa from his trip to help in recovery after September 11, 2001

People across northern Michigan are remembering and honoring the lives that were lost on September 11th, 2001, and for some those memories hit a little closer to home.

“People were coming together to make something better and tried to make something good out of something so horrible,” said Keith Tampa.

Elmwood Township Fire Chief Keith Tampa was a part time firefighter in 2001, but when the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11th, he jumped in a truck to New York.

“When we started approaching the city you could see the plume, the smoke plume from miles and miles away,” said Tampa.

At first, he says it was chaotic, but it didn't take long for the group he went with to get put to work.

“It didn’t matter the color of your coat, the patch on your shoulder, you were part of the same team and readily accepted,” said Tampa.

While Tampa was rushing towards the World Trade Center, Traverse City native HT Snowday lived just a block away, with his wife Lauren and daughter Hallie, who was born just four days earlier.

“[My wife] came to me and said ‘we need to leave the apartment’, and said ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea’ and she said ‘no I believe the buildings are coming down, we need to go’,” said Snowday.

They took the subway and got off after one stop.

“Walked a block, looked down toward the buildings and the first tower collapsed,” said Snowday. “We missed it by probably 10 minutes.”

Their apartment was damaged but Snowday says he still had everything he needed, including his daughter Hallie who is now a senior at Traverse City West.

“Ultimately, we remind ourselves we lost convenience not anything else,” Snowday said. “And we try to focus on the families that lost so much more that day.”

While Tampa says it changed his perspective as a first responder, seeing the love and sacrifice from those around him.

“We are capable of larger amounts of compassion than we know, and just to carry that forward with you,” said Tampa.

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