SHHS grad empathizes with plight of New Yorkers

Although he was working several blocks from “ground zero” 1995 SHHS graduate Ryan Hampton has watched the faces of New Yorkers carry the weight of last week’s terrorist attack.

“You normally think of New Yorkers as rough and tough,” the son of Bill and Chris Hampton said Monday evening. “There’s such a sadness on their faces now. The whole city is feeling it. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Hampton is employed by Stockamp and Associates, a revenue cycle re engineering company for the health care industry. Although he lives in Boston, Mass., his job assignment for the next 11 months is in New York City.

“I just moved here four weeks ago,” Hampton said.

Hampton said he had already fallen in love with the Big Apple.

“I thought Chicago was big, but it’s not compared to New York City,” he said. “It has a flavor all its own.”

Hampton is working with New York Presbyterian Hospital (Cornell University Hospital) and said he was at his desk when the planes struck the World Trade Center.

“Someone yelled that the World Trade Center towers had been hit but we thought it was just an errant plane,” Hampton said. “Then, when the second plane hit, people knew something bad was up.”

Some of the hospital representatives were taking public transit into the city and saw the planes strike the towers, Hampton said.

Although he was several blocks away, the smoke from the WTC fires was easily seen, Hampton said.

“The sirens and alarms started going off and everything went crazy outside,” he said. “People at work were scared because we’re only two blocks from the United Nations. They figured terrorists might want to hit the UN because of the number of delegates there.”

Hampton said the impact of the tragedy didn’t sink in at first. He said it seem surreal for the first two days.

“The first day, people were running up and down the streets crying…all covered with ash,” Hampton said. “There were police officers all over the place.”

The first day the island was closed off which crowded the streets.

The second day was eerie, Hampton said, since the usually hustling streets were now empty. No cars were allowed and there was a chilling silence.

Hampton and other staff members chose to help the city by volunteering at area blood drives.

“Thursday it really hit me emotionally,” Hampton said. “When I started to see the names of people who died, it really set in.”

The impact was especially hard because Hampton’s fiancee’ sister-in-law was on board one of the hijacked planes. She leaves two young children.

“I haven’t been to ground zero yet, they’ve blocked that area off,” Hampton said.

Hampton and his fellow employees usually fly home on weekends. Last weekend, he took the train to Boston.

“We’ve decided to keeping things running from the business end because the hospital is jammed with patients from the attack,” Hampton said. “We’re going to do our best to get everything back up to speed.”