Counseling in Hell - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Counseling in Hell

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September 11, 2002

Albany - Millions watched as terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center Towers, but not Dr. Nancy Anson. The Albany counselor was with a patient, when her son called and broke the news. She knew immediately that she had to do more than watch from South Georgia. But, she didn't realize that the decision she made next would change her life.

Dr. Anson called the American Red Cross and offered her help. But for weeks, she heard nothing."It was the beginning of October, when my secretary walked into my office and said the Red Cross was on the phone. They ask if I wanted to leave today or tomorrow," said Dr. Anson. "I just couldn't believe it."

She had counseled Albany flood victims in 1994, so she knew to expect the worse from this disaster. But, nothing could prepare her for what she was about to experience.

"It was like stepping into hell. The massive crane would pulled up debris and fire would shoot out of the holes. I couldn't believe what I was seeing." Side by side with hundreds of other Red Cross volunteers from across the globe, she counseled firefighters, police officers, or anyone that needed an escape from the horrific reality of Ground Zero.

"One iron worker came to me and wanted to talk. He had just pulled up his eighth dead body from the debris. He said he had built the World Trade Centers and had never thought he would have to tear them down."

She stayed for just 2 weeks and came home tried and changed forever. "It was an amazing experience. I will never forget the hundreds of people I met and the stories they told me. I just hope they continue to talk about their grief."

Dr. Anson tears up thinking about her two short weeks helping the victims and heroes at Ground Zero.

The Red Cross sent more than 1,000 volunteers in New York City on Wednesday, to help people cope with grief that resurfaced this anniversary.

posted at 4:15PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com