Forgotten Story of 9/11: World's Biggest Boatlift

Documentary recounts rescue of 500K by water
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2011 3:30 PM CDT
Documentary 'Boatlift' Recounts Rescue of 500,000 New Yorkers by Water on 9/11
Construction continues on the Freedom Tower (tallest building with two cranes on top), on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center, on August 19 in New York.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A 12-minute documentary tells a remarkable but overlooked story from 9/11—the evacuation by water of an estimated 500,000 New Yorkers, reports the Washington Post. The film, Boatlift, recounts how panicked residents made their way to the waterfront in Lower Manhattan and boarded a flotilla of ferryboats, Coast Guard vessels, and civilian boats that answered the call. The filmmakers say it's the largest such boatlift in history (topping even the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France, during WWII) and is all the more amazing because it came about spontaneously.

“They were just steaming out of the buildings and the first mode of transportation they saw was a ferryboat, that’s when they know, this is how I’m getting out of here,” says one New York Waterway captain, according to the Road to Resilience site. “They didn’t even care where the boat was going.” The film, narrated by Tom Hanks, will be shown Sept. 8 at the Newseum in DC and also will be available that day at the Road to Resilience website. (Read more boatlift stories.)

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