On September 11, all railroads, bridges, and tunnels in Manhattan were eventually shut down, leaving many with no way to get home. Unsure of where to go, some evacuees and survivors ended up on the edge of Battery Park City, alongside the Hudson River. Ferries, dinner boats, and other New York Harbor vessels including the John J. Harvey mobilized immediately.
DuLong and her crew, along with two other FDNY fireboats, supplied water to land-based firefighters for 80 hours until lower Manhattan's mains were restored. By the end of the day, the maritime community had evacuated 500,000 people in less than nine hours – the largest boat evacuation in modern history. In an article published in September 2021 honoring the 20th anniversary of the attacks, DuLong referred to the mariners' efforts as a way to “remind us of our capacities for hope and humanity.”
DuLong went on to became a U.S Coast Guard-licensed Merchant Marine officer and one of the world’s only female fireboat engineers. Her work continues to inspire two decades later. She authored two books, “My River Chronicles” and “Saved at the Seawall: Stories from the September 11 Boat Lift” (Three Hills/Cornell University Press, 2021), which chronicles the story behind the 9/11 boat lift through eyewitness accounts, and personal stories from rescuers and those rescued. DuLong and the John J. Harvey also became the subject of Maira Kalman’s children’s book “Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey,” published in 2002. Today DuLong continues to work as a journalist, author, historian, and chief engineer of the retired John J. Harvey. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we honor her bravery and heroism on 9/11.
By Nicole Torres, Education Specialist