"I just keep begging and praying, just asking God to show me a miracle," she says adding that she wanted to be rescued to see her daughter, who was 12 at the time.
Genelle Guzman McMillan landed up in New York City, after arriving from her native Trinidad, sometime in 1999. She soon started working on the 64th floor of Tower 1 in the World Trade Center as an office temp for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and according to PEOPLE, she was "loving it."
On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m. ET, McMillan was working as usual, when she suddenly felt the building vibrate. She soon found out that a jet hijacked by terrorists hit the top floors of her 110-story building, also known as the North Tower.
Soon, the then 38-year-old felt another jolt and realized it was from another hijacked jet hitting the second tower next door. Immediately, she and a coworker named Rosa decided to walk the staircase to get to safety. They'd made it down to the 13th floor, but McMillan's feet were hurting because she rand down in high heels. In a moment that she'd stopped to take her shoes off, the building collapsed. It was 10:28 a.m.
"Everything just went boom," she recalls. "Everything was crumbling and was just coming on top of me." She had no idea if she would be rescued.
THEY FORGOT HER....BUT WE WON'T !!!— Positive Black Sisters (@PositiveBlackS1) September 11, 2021
Genelle Guzman-McMillan was the last person found alive in the rubble of the World Trade Center. She went to work on September 11, 2001 on the 64th floor. When the towers came down she was buried for 27 hours, longer than any other person...GM pic.twitter.com/6i1xeyy9P6
"I felt like I was there forever," she says. "I just thought I was dreaming. I just figured this has to be a dream. This is not happening. And I didn't know if anybody was going to find me. I just laid there."
"I heard everything that was going on. I heard someone cry out for help in a very faint voice. I would hear the trucks and the walkie-talkies going off," McMillan shares. But she couldn't even call out, because her mouth was filled with dust. "And the pain, it was shooting, like steel was like sticking at my side, by my stomach. I only had my left hand lose, I was trying to position myself to kind of ease that pain, but it didn't help," McMillan adds.
She started preparing to die, "But then I decided to pray. I just knew that I wanted to live because I wanted to see my daughter, Kimberly. She was 12 at the time. I just keep begging and praying, just asking God to show me a miracle," she says. But even then, she was very close to giving up. "And I said, 'Oh God, I can't take this no more when I heard someone call out to me, I feel like he said, 'I got you. My name is Paul,'" recalls McMillan.
“That’s definitely a miracle.”— ABC News (@ABC) September 8, 2021
Genelle Guzman-McMillan was the last person pulled out alive from the World Trade Center rubble after 27 hours. She discusses her survival story with @RobinRoberts.
"Twenty Years Later: The Women of 9/11" airs tonight at 9|8c on @ABC. pic.twitter.com/xC1VdcK5mV
"He holds onto my hand. And I hold on his hands. Talking to me, telling me, 'I'm going to be fine. I'm not going to let you go,'" she remembers.
She spent over 72 hours in the rubble before help arrived. Her right leg was crushed, her head swollen and her face, burned. She was hospitalized for over a month, and doctors at one point considered amputating her leg. But a fourth surgery saved it, though she now has a permanent limp.
Through thick and thin, her boyfriend Roger McMillan was right by her side. When she was in the hospital, she asked him something that had been on her mind for a while. "I said, 'Honey, when I get out, let's go to City Hall and get married,'" she says.
Genelle Guzman McMillan— David Ian Bruce Pyke (@IanIanpyke) September 11, 2021
in the hospital after 9/11
"I felt like I was there forever"
"I just thought I was dreaming
I just figured this has to be a dream This is not happening
And I didn't know if anybody was going to find me
I just laid there" pic.twitter.com/NxcVv8Y2jh
On November 7, 2001, they became man and wife. "And it's been a beautiful journey from there on," says McMillan, 58, who works for the Port Authority at JFK Airport in its environmental unit. "We appreciate each other knowing that there was a 99% I almost lost somebody that I fell in love with," he says. The couple now shares two daughters, and Kimberly, McMillan's first daughter, is still a part of their family.
"I was given a new life," says McMillan. "I know that God has a bigger plan for me and I just try to do what is right. And encourage people in order to try to move forward despite the adversity in life. My faith is just growing stronger and stronger."
The only regret she has is that she was never truly able to find the man who rescued her. "We never found Paul," she shares. "So we've come to the conclusion that Paul truly was my angel."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Guideposts (Genelle Guzman-McMillan on Surviving the September 11th Attack in NYC)