From the stairwell, Billy Butler tried to call 911, using the phone of a Port Authority officer who was trapped with them. When he couldn't get through, he called his wife in Greenville, N.Y. After countless busy signals, he got a connection.
"Diane, we're trapped in the World Trade Center, but I'm OK," he said.
Diane Butler started whimpering. But her husband told her she had a job to do. She was to call the authorities for help.
"Tell them we're in tower one, in the B stairwell at about the fourth floor," he said. "Calm down. You have to do this."
For more than four hours, Billy Butler and his group of survivors waited for help that didn't come. Then a ray of sunlight hit his shoulder.
Somewhere in the wreckage above them was an opening. Leaving Josephine behind, the men scrambled toward it – and emerged into a world that, even with all they had been through, they could not have imagined.
Mountains, acres of smoldering rubble. Hulking steel silhouettes, surreal in the smoke. And above, nothing. Where a 110-story building had stood, a wasteland.