Chapter 4: Making Sense of the Events
4. Making sense of the events … After returning to the fire shed, Cumming went to the Crude Stabilization Plant intending to shut in the vapours to Gas Plant 1. He found a valve key and started to lever the valve shut. The fire was getting worse. He managed to get the valve within two inches of being closed when the hand wheel fell off making the valve inoperable. At that time the last explosion occurred. Cumming made for the main gate …1 … (in the aftermath of September 11th) we were fielding twenty to thirty phone calls a day from people who were scared of planes flying over their house. Some members of the public when a plane went over their house they were terrified and they were calling us and calling everyone. What Al-Qaida did with that attack, and they didn’t intend it, was they found the ideal medium to generate world wide panic.2 ‘Beware the ides of March.’ The soothsayer’s words have become synonymous with unheeded warnings since they were penned by Shakespeare some 400 years ago. Caesar’s response – ‘He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass’ – is less well known but equally apposite. These words sum up the life and times of HIH, and they resonated eerily through the inquiries I made.3 Disasters loom large in our psyche. The heroism, the fear of what might happen and the search for clues to why the disaster occurred, all are familiar elements of the immediate aftermath of catastrophic events....
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