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Rescue and recovery effort after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

The area surrounding the World Trade Center became the site of the greatest number of casualties and missing, and physical destruction. This region became known in the ensuing days as "ground zero".

Table of contents
1 Firefighters
2 Doctors, EMTs, etc.
3 Police
4 Engineers
5 Ironworkers
6 Truckdrivers
7 American Red Cross
8 National Guard
9 Volunteers
10 American Red Cross
11 Monetary Cost


New York City firefighters rushed to the World Trade Center minutes after the first plane struck the north tower. Chief brass set up a command center in the lobby as firefighters climbed up the stairs. FDNY deployed 200 units to the site.

Many firefighters arrived at the World Trade Center without meeting at the command centers.

Problems with radio communication caused commanders to lose contact with many of the firefighters who went into the buildings; those firefighters were unable to hear evacuation orders.

There was practically no communication with the police, who had helicopters at the scene.

When the towers collapsed, hundreds were killed or trapped within.

Meanwhile, average response times to fires elsewhere in the city that day only rose by one minute, to 5.5 minutes.

The other firefighters worked alternating 24-hour shifts.

Firefighters came from hundreds of miles around New York City, including numerous volunteer units in small-town New York.

Doctors, EMTs, etc.


NYPD helicopters were soon at the scene, reporting on the status of the burning buildings.

Many New York City and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police were killed in the collapse of the towers.

The NYPD worked alternating 12-hour shifts in the rescue and recovery effort.


Starting on September 12, engineers organized by the Structural Engineers Association of New York were working on site for the New York City Department of Design and Construction, reviewing stability of the rubble, evaluating the safety of hundreds of buildings near the site, and designing support for the cranes brought in to clear the debris.



By Friday, 9/14/2001, 9000 tons in 1500 truckloads of debris have been brought to the Fresh Kills landfill. By Monday afternoon, 40,000 tons have been taken out.

American Red Cross

See Donations.

National Guard


Volunteers began arriving at the World Trade Center soon after the towers collapsed. Those who arrived in the early hours helped in any way they could, including college students who gave out water to the rescue workers; later unsolicited volunteers were turned away. People with particular skills, including construction, demolition, medical training, and mental health conseling, came to assist throughout the first few days; a team of disaster relief specialists even came from France. By late Friday, September 14, there was essentially no more room for volunteers, though people had arrived from as far off as California, waiting in lines outside the relief administration center at Javits Center.

American Red Cross

Numbers from the American Red Cross, as of November 19, 2001: 11,549,338 meals/snacks have been served. There have been 50,423 total disaster workers, 48,491 of them volunteers. See also Assistance.

Monetary Cost

Estimated total costs, as of 10/3/2001:
$5 billion for debris removal
$14 billion for reconstruction
$3 billion in overtime payments to uniformed workers
$1 billion for replacement of destroyed vehicles and equipment
(one Fire Department accident response vehicle costs $400,000)

September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack - Full Timeline
In Memoriam - Casualties - Missing Persons - Survivors - Personal experiences
Donations - Assistance - Closings and Cancellations - Memorials and Services
US Governmental Response - Responsibility - Hijackers - Political effects - Economic effects

See also: "War on Terrorism" -- U.S. invasion of Afghanistan -- 2001 anthrax attack -- World Trade Center -- The Pentagon -- New York City -- Washington, D.C -- AA Flight 11 -- UA Flight 75 -- AA Flight 77 -- UA Flight 93 -- U.S. Department of Defense -- Operation Bojinka -- terrorism -- domestic terrorism -- Osama bin Laden -- Taliban -- Islamism -- Afghanistan -- collective trauma -- September 11

External Links and References