Recovery worker reflects on months spent at Ground Zero
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
May 29, 2002
[…] When [Joe] O’Toole signed on for trade center duty in January, he thought it would be a 30-day assignment. But after one month, he volunteered for another. And another. And another. And another.
[…] Underground fires raged for months. O’Toole remembers in February seeing a crane lift a steel beam vertically from deep within the catacombs of Ground Zero. "It was dripping from the molten steel," he said.
[…] A veteran of disasters from the Mississippi floods Mt. St. Helens, [Ron] Burger said it reminded him most of the volcano, if he forgot he was in downtown Manhattan. "Feeling the heat, seeing the molten steel, the layers upon layers of ash, like lava, it reminded me of Mt. St. Helen’s and the thousands who fled that disaster," he said. "It could have been a tornado or an avalanche or a volcano."
Ground Zero was a disaster site like no other—with hazards everywhere. Shards of steel lay upon shards of steel, shifting and unstable, uncovering red hot metal beams excavated from deep beneath layers of sub-floors, exposing further dark crevasses.
Ironworkers’ Job of Clearing Ground Zero Is Over, but the Trauma Lingers
By COREY KILGANNON
November 11, 2002
[…] The four men sat on a sunny sidewalk in Greenwich Village on a recent workday and ate their lunch staring at the steel skeleton of a building going up on West Third Street.
One of them commented on how much easier it was to eat a sandwich in front of steel that was strong and straight and new, not molten and mangled and laden with debris.
Reflections in the Wake of September 11:
Visit to Ground Zero, New York City
by Father Edward A. Malloy, CSC
[…] Eddie and I walked down into the depths of the South Tower, Building Two, which was the first to collapse. Large front end loaders were engaged in their task. Gigantic cranes were lifting pieces of steel weighing tons, some of which were being placed on the back of semi trucks. Firefighters atop a number of ladder trucks were spraying in the areas of greatest smoke. The average temperature beneath the rubble is said to be 1500 F. so that when steel is brought up it is molten and takes two or three days to cool down.
RICH GARLOCK: Going below, it was smoky and really hot. We had rescue teams with meters for oxygen and carbon dioxide. They also had temperature monitors. Here WTC 6 is over my head. The debris past the columns was red-hot, molten, running.
PBS, September 2002
TWO WEEKS AT GROUND ZERO
By Guy Lounsbury
[…] My particular part was to help maintain security in and around the perimeter of the site.
[…] Two weeks after the attack, one fireman told us that there was still molten steel at the heart of the towers’ remains.
At Ground Zero
NIH’ers Respond to Tragedy in NYC
By Rich McManus
Photos by Van Hubbard, Susan Orsega, Rich McManus
[…] Ed Pfister’s Diary:
[…] I spent several hours tonight, walking "the pile" and attempting to soak it all in for the last time and find a bit of closure…deep below ground a portion of the pile was still on fire and boiled with molten material. Sometimes, open flame would erupt as a crane pulled debris out and air rushed in. Fire hoses constantly poured streams of water causing huge billowing steam clouds to rise up over the site into the huge lights above.
Reluctant hero narrates horror of N.Y. mission
September 11, 2002
[…] Interim Bryan Fire Department Chief Mike Donoho was one of those sent to "ground zero," as the World Trade Center site quickly became known. […] Here is Donoho’s story, as told to Eagle staff writer John LeBas:
[…] What you had were large columns of steel that were just stuck into massive amounts of molten steel and other metals, that had just fused together from the heat and bonded together from the strength of the collapse.
We dug and we dug and we dug, and we cut and we cut and we cut, and we did not see anything that resembled any type of furniture, any type of personal belongings. We found some pieces of things like a telephone, things like that. I think we found credit cards a few times, and we found a couple of stuffed animals. But you would expect to see, like, a bunch of desks, a bunch of chairs. The only way I can explain it is, if you take a car and put it in one of those machines where they crush it and make it look like a cube, and you can’t recognize what it is, that’s what the whole area looked like. It looked like a massive, molten mess that had been fused together, like a car that had been cubed and crushed.
With all that heavy, heavy stuff, there were wires, rebar, concrete. Most of it was just steel. A lot of what we were walking on was just molten steel.