The Great Boatlift of 9/11/01; 500,000 Rescued; Largest in History

Maggie’s Notebook

I had not heard about the “boatlifters” on September 11, 2001 until today. Some 500,000 people were helped out of New York City after the attacks on the World Trade Towers, said to be the largest boatlift in history. People were reportedly jumping into the river to get away, and the story is that boats were dangerously close to running over them. The video below is a ten minute documentary. Keep in mind that as these water angels helped to rescue so many, they did so knowing there could be another attack anytime.

Katherine Herrup – please read it all, the following is just a snippet, and be grateful for so many heroes on that terrible day:

It was the largest boatlift ever to have happened – greater than the one at Dunkirk during World War II. Yet somehow a story of such large scale became lost in all the rubble. But a new 10-minute documentary called Boatlift by Eddie Rosenstein captures the boat evacuations that happened on 9/11. The film is part of four new short documentaries that were created for the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C.

“Boats, usually an afterthought in most New Yorkers minds, were, for the first time in over a century, the only way in or out of lower Manhattan,” says Tom Hanks, the narrator of the film.

New Yorkers don’t really think of Manhattan as an island since everything from the basics to beyond your wildest imagination is so accessible — not typically a feature associated with island life. But on September 11, 2001, those trapped below the World Trade Center site who could not escape without swimming or being rescued by a boat were acutely reminded of that fact.

Accounts of people coming through the smog, covered in dust, “looking like Zombies.” In the video you hear the call from the Coast Guard to help “evacuate Lower Manhattan.” Chilling! Heart Warming. Goosebump producing. God Bless the American people. Thanks to David Lemon who found this story.See his beautiful hula dancer in bronze.

The Boatlifters of 9/11/01 (video)



  1. Thanks Arlen, such a beautiful and emotional story.

  2. This Picture speaks for itself. It was given to me on May 11, 1999 almost 2 1/2 years before September 11. Why? Because America has forsaken the Lord and his fear is not in them Jeremiah 2: 11-13, 19 KJV
    2 Chronicles 7; 19-22 KJV
    19 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;
    20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.

    21 And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and unto this house?

    22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.
    Jeremiah 4: 1- 7 KJV
    1 If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.

    2 And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.

    3 For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

    4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

    5 Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.

    6 Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.

    7 The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant.

  3. How important was this so called boat lift – really? In comparing it with Dunkirk in WW2 – I cannot see that it was. In Dunkirk, those that were not rescued would have been either killed or German prisoners, and definitely out of the war. In NY – they would have been hungry or inconvenienced – not much else. As for another attack – there was no more a chance of that occurring then for anywhere else in the US, especially in the bigger cities.

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