Michael Rice is Executive Director for the Private Client Group at Prudential Securities, located at One Seaport Plaza, six blocks east of the World Trade Center.
Though he emphasizes that the efforts of others in his company were just as important, Rice played a significant part in Prudential’s evacuation and rescue efforts on the day. Prudential also had personnel in One New York Plaza and One Liberty Plaza, a building that was substantially damaged in the terrorist attacks. After the first plane struck the WTC, the company made immediate moves to evacuate personnel to their Seaport Plaza building and, in that building, moved workers on high floors down to the lobby. After the collapse of the towers, Rice described the scene as “a massive snowstorm, like a stampede, coming down every street towards us.” He helped carry a man with a broken leg into the lobby and assisted the police in securing the building. “I was there with a bullhorn. We didn’t know what would happen next. We tried to get people off the streets and into the lobby. We didn’t want to release people into danger and yet wanted to get them out safely.”
Though Prudential sadly lost one person from their asset management division, they were fortunate in that most injuries were relatively minor. Due to the unprecedented nature of the attacks, Rice says, “It wasn’t so much a well-orchestrated fire safety and rescue plan that got us through, as a case of people rising to the occasion and looking out for others. People took their cars out of the garage to help get the injured, elderly people and pregnant women to hospitals. They put their lives in danger to help others. They were great.”
On October 6, Rice was chairman of Prudential’s annual “Global Volunteer Day” which every year tries to get Prudential staff to participate in community projects. This year was their biggest volunteer turnout ever. Rice says, “We got almost 2,000 people to come down to East River Park [which was covered with dirt and debris after September 11] and clean it up. The Prudential Foundation donated $60 for every person down there and we were able to give a check for $109,000 to the New York City Police and Fire Widows and Children Benefit. I was never more proud of the company.” ♦