Rescue, Recovery and Rebuilding

Recovery workers at the World Trade Center site. Photo by Mario Tama/Courtesy of Getty Images

New York City, State and Federal officials initiated rescue and recovery operations at all three attack sites, supported by thousands of first responders, ironworkers, engineers and members of the building trades.

At the three attack sites, days and weeks -- and in NYC, months -- 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.

Sept. 11, 2001:
First responders at the WTC, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania arrive at each site within minutes of the attacks to help with evacuations and search for survivors.

Sept 12, 2001:
Rescue workers and civilian volunteers travel to NYC from across the nation to assist in the search and recovery operations.

Sept. 12, 2001 (approx. 12:30 PM):
The last survivor is rescued from WTC site.

Sept. 14, 2001:
A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance is observed. President Bush visits Ground Zero.

Oct. 7, 2001:
Operation Enduring Freedom begins; the U.S. and other countries initiate military action in Afghanistan.

Mar. 11, 2002:
The six-month anniversary of the attack is marked with two beams of light emanating from Lower Manhattan.

May 30, 2002:
The WTC recovery operation comes to a ceremonial end.

Sept. 2002:
The reconstruction of the Pentagon building is completed.

Feb. 27, 2003:
A master plan for the 16-acre WTC site is selected, calling for a memorial and museum within the original WTC tower footprints and five office towers, including the Freedom Tower. Also planned are a performing arts center and a world-class transit center.

Apr. 1, 2003:
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announces the start of an international design competition for the WTC site memorial.

Jan. 1, 2004:
The WTC Memorial Jury announces the winning design.

July 22, 2004:
The 9/11 Commission issues its final report.

May 23, 2006:
The new 7 WTC opens, the first building to be rebuilt in Lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks.

Aug. 17, 2006:
Heavy construction of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum begins.

September 11, 2001 marked a moment of profound change. While the voids in NYC and the destruction at the crash sites are reminders of loss, the outpouring of generosity and assistance in response to the attacks demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit.

A permanent memorial opened at the Pentagon in September 2008, and a Flight 93 memorial is planned to open in Somerset County in 2011.

The rebuilding of Lower Manhattan continues, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center will serve as a permanent memorial to all who were killed in the September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 attacks.