A North Texas survivor of 9/11 shared her story publicly for the first time on Wednesday.
To help commemorate the 18th anniversary of the terror attacks, Linda Randazzo talked about her experience working on the 35th floor of One World Trade Center in 2001.
"My desk literally shifted from the wall," Randazzo said during a team meeting at Medical City Plano. "It was like nothing we've ever felt before, everybody just looked at each other and said what was that?"
At the time, Randazzo worked for an insurance company in New York. She moved to North Texas in 2003 and has worked in the scheduling department for Medical City Plano for 14 years.
She said she’d shared her story to friends and family, but never in a public way.
"For me, it was very hard to talk about. It was something that I went through," Randazzo said.
Wednesday morning, Randazzo painted a vivid picture of her experience. She described elevator doors in the hallways sucked back into the shaft, the smell of gasoline and a last-minute decision to look for a friend as people on the 35th floor tried to evacuate down a main stairwell.
"I funneled in the opposite direction of what they wanted us to do," Randazzo recalled.
That decision sent her down a different stairwell.
"If I went down the main stairway, I would have been in the lobby of the Trade Center and most of the people in the lobby either were seriously hurt or didn't make it out at all," she said.
Randazzo recalled the physical strain of trying to climb down the packed stairwell. She said she prayed for help.
"Lord, I know you're busy right now, but I can't do this without you because I'm hurting," Randazzo said.
She prayed for the Lord to walk with her or send an angel.
"That feeling of relief and calm, it just washed over. It felt like somebody took their hand and put it on the small of my back and stood me straight," Randazzo said.
On the ground, she found her friend and a payphone to call her family. She said it took hours to make it home from Manhattan to Staten Island that day.
"Today is bittersweet because I am thankful, grateful and very blessed to have made it out of the building, but very sad for those that didn't," Randazzo said.
She said she told her coworkers on Wednesday that she can still recall the faces of every firefighter who walked past her up the stairs.
She said it's important to her to talk about that day, knowing there's a generation that is now too young to remember 9/11.
"You do see it on TV and it's in some far away place and it can never happen here. So, we need to remember that it did and it could," Randazzo said.
Randazzo urges people to teach their children about that day.
"People I'd seen every day are no longer there. For me, not remembering and not honoring them is worse than feeling that immersion today," she said.