David Rosenzweig, VerizonBy Baselinemag | Posted 2006-09-07 Print
David Rosenzweig, 61, is Verizon's vice president of network operations for the state of New York, a position he held on Sept. 11, 2001. The 35-year veteran of Verizon was, and still is, the company's top executive based at 140 West Street in New York Cit
David Rosenzweig, 61, is Verizon's vice president of network operations for the state of New York, a position he held on Sept. 11, 2001. The 35-year veteran of Verizon was, and still is, the company's top executive based at 140 West Street in New York City, directly across from the World Trade Center complex.
Rosenzweig led the team that restored phone service to lower Manhattan after the collapse of 7 World Trade Center destroyed much of Verizon's infrastructure in the adjacent building. None of Verizon's 70-person staff at 140 West died on 9/11.
Q: Where were you on 9/11?
A: Interestingly, my morning started out at our [Manhattan] headquarters at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. I was in a conference room with my back to the window. The guy in front of me, his eyes got wide. I turned around and saw the tower on fire, then we saw the second plane hit. I figured out pretty fast it couldn't be an accident.
I took the subway downtown to our building down there, at 140 West Street. We were the building just west of 7 World Trade. We were making sure our people were all OK; then the lights went out, so to speak. In retrospect, we realized that was the collapse of the first tower.
Q: What happened to Verizon's physical infrastructure around the World Trade Center?
A: We lost the central office [the facility that houses phone switching equipment] that was in the south tower [2 World Trade Center] on the 10th floor. That was totally vaporized. The real damage was to occur when 7 World Trade caught on fire. It came crashing down on us at about 5 p.m. That's what caused the mega-damage. When 7 World Trade collapsed, the basement flooded and it took our power generator out. It ripped a large amount of the eastern face of our building away. The steel pierced the ground and cut cables. Six weeks later, someone showed me a report that the last call went through at 10:22 that evening. The batteries probably lasted about five hours; they are spec'd to run four hours.
Q: What was the effect on operations?
A: Everything was out of service in the West Street district, from river to river. We have five central offices that serve lower Manhattan. The remaining offices were OK. But this particular office, serving 200,000 phone lines, was out on a couple of counts: It had no power, and it had sustained very significant physical damage. The equipment in some cases was physically ripped from its mountings, including part of the equipment that serves 911. But that's duplicated in another part of the city, so we didn't miss a 911 call.
Q: Did Verizon's business continuity plan meet expectations on Sept. 11?
A: There's not a business-continuity plan in the world that could deal with what we faced that day. What we needed was the collective brainpower of a large number of people who could design the solution to recover from this particular incident. It's the intellectual capital that makes the difference. The issue is: Do you have people who can get on site quickly, and design a solution that meets your needs, knowing that you'll probably never see this situation again? ... The A-team for Verizon was in New York City that day.
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