Editor’s Note: Longtime Senior Editorial Consultant for EC&M from Queens, N.Y., Joseph R. Knisley, who works near Ground Zero, offers a unique perspective on how the attacks affected various elements of lower Manhattan’s infrastructure in the short summaries below.

What have we learned since the tragic events of September 11 in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania? One thing is certain: At 8:45 a.m. (EST) on that now infamous day, when the first hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC), our lives changed forever. In addition to the devastating loss of life at the WTC and Pentagon, the intricate interrelationships of everyday commerce throughout the nation and the world were drastically interrupted and altered. Now the nation must deal with the aftermath of the attacks, put the pieces back together, and come to grips with the real threat of terrorism on American soil.

How was the electrical industry specifically affected? Losses in the construction family were particularly painful, as employees of various building trade unions took a particularly hard hit in the WTC attack. Among the more than 200 IBEW Local 3 members who were working in the twin towers that morning, 16 died in the collapse of the WTC, according to Ray Melville, assistant business manager of the IBEW Local. A total of 72 employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are still missing and presumed dead. One New York distributor lost a delivery driver. Many contractors and electricians working at the WTC and Pentagon narrowly escaped death. And several engineering and construction firms housed in the 110-story twin towers were destroyed.

Over next few years, construction workers will continue to find their skills very much in demand. “It is a terrible thing, but the building trades are going to be busy for the next several years rebuilding that part of Manhattan,” says Mike McGuire, political director of Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Long Island.

In an October 4 report, New York City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi estimated the attack had caused $34 billion in property damage. To put this into perspective, the amount of Class A office space destroyed-about 13 million sq ft-was equal to the entire office space inventory of Miami or Atlanta. Although the devastating loss of those who perished that day is incalculable, experts have translated the productive power of the victims into about $11 billion in human capital.

Photo courtesy of Luke Mata.