Interview with Richard Garlock
This transcript is based on videotaped interviews conducted by Great Projects Film Company for the documentary "America Rebuilds: A Year at Ground Zero," and has been edited lightly for readability. The interviewer's questions have not been included; the interviewee's initials indicate where answers to questions begin.
Richard Garlock (RG): My uncle, Dick Welch, was on the U.S.S. Enterprise. That was an aircraft carrier stationed in South Pacific and actually on its way to Pearl Harbor on the 6th of December. They didn't make it into port that night because of some boiler problems or something. The history of that is well documented. But he watched as their planes went in and came back. He realized that there was something going on when the planes kept coming back in all shot up. So by the time they steamed into Pearl Harbor on the 7th, they realized all that had happened. He was there and saw all that. When I finally got a chance to see him this December, I just had an aside conversation with him about him seeing the aftermath of that and me seeing what actually happened on September 11th. We both saw it happen and saw the aftermath and we talked a little bit about that. He talked about the difference between the two attacks, with one being an attack on the military of the country and the other one being an attack upon the country -- the men, women, children and everything. As difficult as Pearl Harbor was to comprehend at that point in time, this just goes beyond that. That's from his perspective as being someone who was there seeing it. So it was interesting.
RG: The parallels are more on a personal level about how you deal with that. It's belief in God and it's the strength in your faith that enables you to do the job you have to do. At Pearl Harbor, they couldn't just stand in awe of it because they had a job to do. They had to do that and the same thing with us here. We had something that we had to do. You just have to do it and deal with everything else later. That's kind of the parallel. Actually it is probably the only parallel.
RG: What words leap to mind over the last seven months include, incredibly devastating and horrific. Also, tragic. I had a duty and responsibility as an engineer to respond in anyway possible and to assist. Those aren't words but it's hard to summarize it in a single word.
RG: On the first day I was there was as a volunteer with SEAoNY. That was the 14th. I came in on the 14th. At the time, everything was just in disarray. Drawings and information on the site had started being put together and provided to everybody. Our office contained a lot of knowledge about the World Trade Center site, including the properties that we designed, maintained and inspected for the past thirty years. So we went down there with a focus on providing support regarding the World Trade Center buildings. Sometimes our team worked on the SEAoNY side of it, doing the normal routines that all the rest of the firms were doing. Other times, LERA had a presence there just providing support to contractors, uniformed personnel and DDC about World Trade Center Buildings and the sub-grade and so on. Sometimes that was our focus.
RG: The major players were as follows. You had Thornton, Thomas, the LZA who was DDC's point for the engineering. Then Mueser, Rutledge was the point on the foundation walls, the slurry wall and then the tiebacks. We addressed the structural issues regarding the towers, sub-grade buildings four, five, six and the hotel as well as any questions that had to do with any of those structures. You also had SEAoNY who, along with LZA/TT, were providing the building inspections for the permanent buildings around all of Lower Manhattan. They were inspecting all of these buildings and documenting debris and damage and so on. SEAoNY was comprised of just about every engineering firm in New York. They had representatives that were in SEAoNY and they would come in and do their twelve-hour shifts and keep providing people to do these. It was just a massive amount of inspections that needed to be done. That's why if you start counting the number of firms, it's a who's who of structural engineering in New York. I think I heard the number at roughly about four hundred some different structural engineers worked on site.
RG: There were a lot of people. There were 24/7 shifts and you got to bring the key people in to do that work and people with experience. But at the same time, they had other jobs going on in the office and that had to maintain that, too.