SEVIERVILLE, TN - Most people remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001. Jo-Ann Dalessio remembers just how close she was to losing her life.
"I didn't know what hit us, but it was a dramatic, tumultuous shaking of the building," Dalessio said. "I was bent over a desk when it first happened. I thought it was an earthquake."
Dalessio was on the 61st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan when the first plane crashed into the building around 8:45 a.m. She fled down the stairs, walking through heavy smoke and broken glass.
She credits a firefighter climbing up the stairs while she was going down for helping her make it out alive.
"He said, you guys are going to make it. You are going to get out of this building," Delassio recalls. "As soon as he said we're going to get out, everything inside me was gone and I felt normal again."
She has been trying to find the name or a picture of the firefighter who helped rescue her for the past 16 years.
Hundreds of first responders, however, were killed that day, when the Twin Towers collarpse.
Although she has been unsuccessful in finding that firefighter, she is forever grateful.
"They were the true heroes and they walked to their death," Delassio said.
Delassio now lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and evacuated to East Tennessee with her family, neighbors, and pet parrot to flee Hurricane Irma. In addition to the September 11 attacks, she also survived the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, also by terrorists, and was without power for a week after Superstorm Sandy.
In all of the disasters that she has seen, there is one common thread that has bound everything together.
"The most important thing is humanity and people coming together," Delassio said. "It's people helping people, and that's what makes this country great."
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