The 9/11 Manhattan boat lift

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Tom Hanks narrates the story of history's largest evacuation by sea: 500,00 survivors in 9 hours!

In a new mini-documentary narrated by Tom Hanks and commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the ferryboat captains, coast guardsmen and civilian boaters relate the terror and heroism of that day of infamy.

The nine-hour boatlift rescued over 500,000 terrified civilians from the piers and seawalls of Lower Manhattan as the towers burned and collapsed around them. It was the largest sea evacuation in history, larger even than the storied evacuation of 339,000 British and French troops off the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Michael Day, who had been helping coordinate the evacuation from a pilot boat in the harbor until that point, recalls: "There was a small boat at the lower tip of Manhattan - I thought the boat was going to flip over because so many people were trying to get on," said Day, now a commander. "And as I looked behind, they were just 10 deep. And that's kind of what gave us the idea.

So we decided to make the call on the radio,

'All available boats, this is the United States Coast Guard aboard the pilot boat New York; anyone wanting to help with the evacuation of Lower Manhattan, report to Governor's Island."

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