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Edgewood survivor of 9/11 attacks remembers the day 10 years later

BY KIRSTEN DIZE, kdize@theaegis.com

7:44 PM EDT, September 8, 2011

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Ten years ago Amy Andrews narrowly escaped the heart of the 9/11 attacks with her life.

Today the Edgewood woman lives to help others and believes the experience helped her to realize her destiny.

Andrews was working at the front desk in the lobby of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel in New York City when the first hijacked Boeing 767 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

She was helping evacuate guests when the second plane hit the south tower. Guests continued to flee the hotel and Andrews stayed to help emergency workers who were running into the north tower, which was connected to the hotel.

A short time later firefighters came running out of the tower into the hotel lobby where Andrews stood, calling everyone to evacuate.

Suddenly the entire side of the Marriott building came down and the impact blew Andrews and others out of the middle of the lobby.

She, her friend and a terrified firefighter grasped their way out of the rubble and ran. Shortly after they escaped, the south tower came crashing to the ground.

Andrews said she can't believe it's been 10 years since that day.

"The next few months I couldn't sleep in the dark I was … my self esteem wasn't as strong," Andrews said.

Out of the trauma, however, came a renewed sense of life and a desire to help others.

"I don't have a bad day ever since then, I take things lightly," Andrews said. "From that day on I realized that I like to help people."

In 2002 Andrews joined the Air Force and worked as a physical therapist assistant before serving in the honor guard.

"I had so much anger for what the terrorists had done," Andrews said.

That anger and her desire to help others led her to join the military.

"I think I always like to help people and I think with 9/11, and I didn't even think about just escaping for myself and stayed behind to help the firemen, that put something in me," Andrews said. "From that point on it just feels to me that this is my destiny and this is probably the reason I was kept alive."

Andrews said certain images or sounds can still set off flashbacks and a feeling of anxiety.

"Whoever has come through that day, people who have survived, who escaped from this terrible event, it kind of has you scarred for life," Andrews said.

Even with the pain, Andrews said surviving 9/11 was like starting a new life.

"After September 11th it was like a new birthday, a new life," Andrews said. "You either become a drug addict or do things for the bad or you use your life for good and to make a change positively."

Every year the anniversary is a sad one and the television coverage rekindles unpleasant feelings.

"When I watch it on television, they show a lot of clips when the anniversary comes, it brings an eerie feeling into my heart. It feels like death passed you by," Andrews said.

Watching those clips years later still brings tears to her eyes.

"When they show people jumping off or hanging out the window you wish you could go back in time and save the world," Andrews said.

Instead of lingering on the past, Andrews moves forward. While in the service Andrews met Jeff Andrews, the man who would later become her husband. After four years in the Air Force, Amy and Jeff Andrews moved to Maryland to start a family.

Andrews lives in Edgewood, works in Hickory and now has a 2-year-old daughter.

"She's my joy and my life," Andrews said.

On Sunday, the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Andrews will speak at the Dublin Firehouse. The firehouse will be given a piece of the trade center as a memorial that will stand in front of the firehouse.

"I can't believe it was 10 years ago," Andrews said.