Fallon, New York, the advertising agency thought to be nearest to Tuesday’s devastation epicentre, spent an agonizing twenty-four hours before it was able to account for the safety of all staff.

The agency, a unit of Publicis Groupe, is located at 233 Broadway, only two blocks away from the doomed World Trade Center, and initially was unable to account for ten staffers after evacuating the building amid a miasma of smoke and soot. By Wednesday am, however, all had been located and were safe.

Reported Julie Thompson, a spokesperson for the agency, who departed Manhattan to return to Fallon’s Minneapolis headquarters a few hours before the terrorist attack: “We've found everyone and our next concern is their friends and family still missing”

She continued: “We're hearing stories of staff walking 120 blocks covered in ash to go home, some to Brooklyn.” Many had witnessed horrific scenes as they stumbled through an obstacle course of wreckage and casualties. "They literally had to run,” said Thompson.

Within hours Fallon had set-up an emergency center to establish via phone teams the whereabouts of staff. The center also offers other aid both to staff and clients. “We're offering our full support ... whatever we can. Anything we can do for them we will do,” she said.

As to damage to Fallon’s office accommodation, no assessment will be possible until Mayor Rudy Guliani reopens Lower Manhattan.

Thompson also confirmed that all Fallon staff who had been out of town on agency business were accounted for and travelling home by car from places like San Francisco and Washington as all US airlines are still grounded.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline