Rescue & Recovery

At the three attack sites, days and weeks - and months as was the case with New York City – were spent extinguishing fires, searching for survivors and, ultimately, searching for remains of the victims. It took nine months to remove approximately 1.8 million tons from the WTC site.

In the aftermath of 9/11, donations of money and supplies poured in and thousands of people volunteered their help and support. Memorials, services and vigils were held in NYC, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and all over the world.

A federal fund compensated victims’ families and severely injured survivors. Families of victims advocated for the formation of the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the attacks and issued a report with analysis and recommendations.

Advanced DNA technology continues to be used to identify the remains of victims. However, human remains have still not been identified for approximately 40% of the WTC victims.

Public and private sectors partnered to support Lower Manhattan’s recovery, growth and revitalization, and worked to balance the need to remember and honor the victims with the need for a strong and vibrant community.

Following is a brief timeline of the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts:

September 12, 2001:  At 12:30 p.m., rescuers searching the north tower wreckage to locate Genelle Guzman. She will be the last of 18 people pulled from the rubble alive. 

September 13, 2001: Structural engineers begin examining the structural integrity of buildings on the periphery of the World Trade Center site.

September 17, 2001: Professional construction and credentialed recovery workers take over the operations at ground zero. Volunteers continue to assist in the effort.

September 28, 2001: More than 134 tons of material have been removed; NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani estimates that the cleanup will take “anywhere from nine months to a year.”

October 6, 2001: The last federal rescue team leaves ground zero. Although workers hope to find survivors, their official mission shifts to recovery.

October 8, 2001: Construction workers discover a crack in the subterranean “slurry wall” encircling the World Trade Center site. Engineers fear the slurry wall will rupture, causing catastrophic flooding that would compromise recovery operations. In the following weeks, engineers and workers fortify the slurry wall.

October 28, 2001: A memorial service is held at the World Trade Center site for victims’ families.

October 30, 2001: Citing safety concerns, the New York City officials announce plans to reduce the number of uniformed personnel on the site. Out of the approximately 160 firefighters on duty on the site, 25 would remain, and 25 of the approximately 90 police officers (the NYPD and the PAPD) would stay on.

October 31, 2001: At least $200 million worth of gold and silver is removed from a Bank of Nova Scotia vault under 4 WTC.

November 2, 2001: Firefighters protest plans to scale back their presence on site. Eventually the city allows 75 to remain on site.

December 19, 2001: New York Governor George Pataki states that the FDNY has extinguished the fire at the World Trade Center site. FDNY remains on standby in case small pockets of fire or “hot spots” are discovered.

February 20, 2002: Trapped Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) train cars removed from the World Trade Center site.

March 11, 2002: The six-month anniversary of the attacks is marked with “Tribute in Light,” an art installation projecting two shafts of light upward from lower Manhattan.

May 10, 2002: Along with 1.4 million tons of debris removed from the site, 19,435 body parts have been recovered from ground zero.

May 28, 2002: Construction workers cut down the “Last Column,” the final standing column of the World Trade Center. Two days later, on May 30, 2002, the column is removed from the site in a public event attended by thousands, ceremonially marking the end of the recovery and cleanup operations.

June 25, 2002: The last truckload of debris is carried out of the World Trade Center site. More than 110,000 truckloads of debris have been removed from ground zero.