By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– Lisa Gilford can remember exactly where she was on 9/11: just a few blocks from the World Trade Center. The Denver woman was in New York, walking her dog while talking on the phone to her husband when she saw what she thought was a stunt plane.

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“And I said, ‘Jim, I can’t believe it… this plane is going to try to go,’ and as I said that, it crashed into the building. It looked like an accident and… ‘Oh my God.’ And then all of the sudden little flakes of soot falling on us and our dogs and we didn’t move.”

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For Gilford, it was as though time stopped Sept. 11, 2001, “It feels like it’s been no time at all.”

A native New Yorker, Gilford was splitting time between Denver, where her husband lived, and Greenwich Village, where she worked as a producer and screenwriter.

She can’t remember where she was when the second plane hit, but she’ll never forget what she saw, “I said, ‘Look, they’re throwing out napkins, they’re surrendering, they’re surrendering’ and the guy next to me said, ‘Those are not napkins, those are people.'”

Nothing seemed as it was, “People started streaming out of the building… torn shirts and all sooty and… they looked like zombies.. nobody looked back, nobody looked back.”

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A Greenwich Village police officer asked about her dog Leif who did water rescue, “He said to me, ‘Does Leif do cadaver work?’ and I said,’No, only live scent’ and he said, ‘We won’t be needing him.'”

For days, she says, hundreds of people lined the highway applauding first responders. Once a year, she wears a t-shirt in memory of one who died.

“I just cried for whole situation of humanity and what hell happened here? Just like that, it was a beautiful day and just incomprehensible. It was about 6 months later that I moved.”

After the attacks, Gilford’s life was never the same. Her neighborhood went on lockdown and she spent time volunteering at a hospital before eventually moving back to Colorado, “I felt like I was deserting my city to leave but I just couldn’t bear the pile. Twenty years… it was yesterday.”

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While she didn’t know anyone in the towers, what she saw that day was traumatizing and, she says, she suffered PTSD for a time. Even today, the sights, sounds and smells are still with her.

Shaun Boyd