She will forever be known as “the dust lady” — the terrified young woman covered from head to toe in ash and dust billowing from the crashing twin towers, whose iconic picture captured the horror of 9/11.
Marcy Borders escaped death that day, but it has taken a decade for her to start living again. At 38, she is finally emerging from a hell of addiction to alcohol and drugs that she says began as she relived the nightmare of America’s worst attack. The children she lost to her addictions have finally been returned to her. And the face of Osama bin Laden is haunting her no more.
Borders was working at Bank of America in the north tower, when the first plane hit. She fought her way down a stairwell to the ground just before the building collapsed in a heap of rubble.
Huge clouds of powdered concrete blanketed Borders, turning her into an eerie, ghost-like figure.
Forgotten after the iconic picture was published around the world, she remained traumatized by what she had seen.
At home in Bayonne, N.J., “my life became a garbage can,” she told Britain’s Mail Online. “I was taking pills, crack . . . anything I could get my hands on. Alcohol would make me numb, and it helped me forget being trapped in the tower and looking at that photograph.”
She became obsessed with fears that Osama bin Laden was going to attack again.
Finally, just last April, Borders cried out for help. She was admitted to the Sunrise Foundation, a New Jersey drug rehab center. She was there on May 1 when word came of the death of bin Laden. “Now I have peace of mind,” she says.
Marcy completed her 28-day rehab program on May 20 — and welcomed home her daughter Noelle, 18, and 3-year-old son Zay-den, who’d been cared for by concerned relatives.
When visitors come by, Borders sometimes pulls out the plastic bag she hides behind her sofa. It holds the clothes she was wearing in the famous photograph.
“You can still smell the fire on them,” she says. “It makes me feel sick — but I just have to keep them.”
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