NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A week after a Florida building collapse, search and rescue efforts have been paused due to structural concerns of the adjacent building.
All this is triggering for those who 20 years ago were sifting through the rubble at Ground Zero, telling CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis they see similarities between the two events.READ MORE: NYPD: 2 Gunman Wanted After 10 Shot Outside Queens Laundromat
Images of the condo collapse in Florida and crews painstakingly sifting through the rubble hit close to home for many New Yorkers.
“Images there that bring us right back to 9/11 … Not that we ever really moved beyond it there,” said Det. Lt. John Ryan, task force commander with Port Authority Police.
Ryan served as the day tour commander of the rescue/recovery operation at Ground Zero for months following 9/11.
“You still have an unstable structure right next door, so even bringing any type of equipment into that area or any support that would aid in that has to be very calculated,” Ryan said.
In an interview with CSPAN in January 2002, Ryan said, “We all try to stay focused on what our mission here and that’s to recover as many people as possible.”
“What was that like?” DeAngelis asked him.
“I describe it as it’s a place there where you would rather be anywhere else but you wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else,” he said.READ MORE: COVID In New York: Mask Mandates Not Being Re-Imposed Just Yet As Concern Grows Over Delta Variant
Commending crews working tirelessly at the collapse site, a complicated and dangerous environment, echoed by former FDNY Commissioner Tom von Essen.
“All the problems that they’re facing are the same problems we faced, just on a smaller scale. The movement, the effort to get into spaces where there’s no room, trying to get material out so you can get a rescue worker in,” he said.
He says engineers help make decisions behind the scenes in the process that is painfully slow but necessary in the careful search for survivors.
“You know they have choices that they make very early on and it slows everything down but it’s the only way to guarantee that you will find people … If there if there are any survivors … You could come in there the first day with heavy equipment and everything would have been done by now, but they’re doing so much of it by hand. They’re moving … hundreds of tons of concrete and material, and they’re bringing it to a covered locations so they can go through it, just in case they missed any body remains or they missed any belongings of the people,” von Essen said.
“Finding a belonging or something that is associated with those people is a critical part of providing that to the families,” Ryan said.
To help bring some closure to families and first responders, who they know have their toughest days ahead.
“A long time of pain and anguish and sadness, and it doesn’t go away. Time helps it, you know. It’s like a burn, it’s like a scar that just that never goes away,” von Essen said.
“While we always will remember and never forget the people lost, you also have a mission to those that are survivors and also to those that have come since then to make sure that events like that don’t occur,” Ryan said.MORE NEWS: NYPD: 3 Shot In Washington Heights, No Arrests
Ryan recalled how the outpouring of support from the community and first responders around the world helped them get through the recovery operation after 9/11. He is encouraging others to send all the support they can to south Florida.