They were the lucky ones. Unlike the workers and rescuers trapped under the stories-high rubble that was New York City's World Trade Center, they escaped - or never made it to the office on Sept. 11. Now they're coping with their own stunned sorrow and trying to get on with business - though not quite as usual.They worked in the WTC or nearby. Only some of them are back in their old offices, and some may never be. Still, in a variety of ways, they have managed to keep operations going. Clearly, contingency plans, multiple means of communication, dispersed locations, and technology, as well as good luck, contributed to helping affected firms keep operating with minimal disruption of service to clients.
Daniel Boccara, chief executive, Coface North America, part of the Coface Group, a provider of trade-credit protection, was flying back to New York from Paris when his plane was diverted to Gander, New Foundland. It remained there for two days. The South Tower of the WTC that housed his firm's New York office lay in ruins, but miraculously all 15 staff members were safe. Several were attending a seminar in New Jersey, and the rest had not yet arrived at the office when the first of two hijacked airliners crashed into the building. "By late afternoon," Bocarra says, "we knew where everyone was. And because we travel so much and most work with laptops, our technology systems were not affected. Our servers are in New Haven, Conn. with backup in Paris. All our files were safe." For the time being, Coface is operating in mid-town Manhattan, in space provided by the French commercial attache. "We were very lucky," he says, "but it's very disturbing. People we used to do business with are missing."
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