Eyewitness Account: Brian Hendrickson, Oakland (NJ) Fire Department; Curtiss-Wright Flight Systems, Power Hawk Division

It's as if a volcano erupted, a tornado struck, and a bomb fell all at the same time. The scene doesn't seem real; it's like a movie-surreal, a word used by so many to describe this horrible atmosphere.

When we got here, about a block and a half from the Ground Zero, I thought, "This is indescribable." There was smoke from fires in the rubble. Every time the rubble was exposed to oxygen, flames appeared-caused by electrical fires and things of that nature.

Debris is everywhere-so many papers, computer disks, credit card statements. The mounds of debris remind you of a garbage disposal site.

My company, Curtiss-Wright, came in at the request of the FDNY Rescue 1, the New York FEMA team. We are here to maintain rescuers' tools in working order (recharge batteries and other maintenance tasks) and to deliver equipment that will facilitate access to smaller areas in the search zones.

I was struck by the number of American flags at the scene, put there by rescuers, who defiantly persevered in their mission to help the victims despite their exhaustion and nagging sense of personal loss as they feverishly search for their comrades-in some cases, virtually all members of their companies and squads. Yet they hold out the hope that they will find some of their colleagues and other victims alive. They will not quit looking. They are doing what they are trained to do: work effectively despite their personal feelings and exhaustion. As always, they are meeting the challenges they face.

The fire department lost so many of its senior officers. Firefighters were constantly streaming in. I met some from Chicago and California-even Israel.

The support for rescuers is phenomenal. People are applauding those engaged in rescue efforts-emergency workers, contractors, construction workers.

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