Emergency Management

Puget Sound USAR team makes progress at WTC site
Posted By Sheri Badger on Sep 24th, 2001 at 2:14 AM

Tacoma, WA – September 24, 2001 – Maj. Tom Miner of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, who is in New York City with the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (WATF-1), filed this report: For the first time since arriving the US&R task forces had pretty much free reign in the pile for most of the night. All eight teams were working at the same time. Some were cutting steel with the steel workers, others were filling huge dumpsters using shovels and buckets while our team and some of the fire department Special Operations crews were searching voids. Our team has been inside the building all the way to the subway. They have crawled through the twisted maze of steel and found numerous new voids not previously searched. You would all be proud of WATF-1. These guys rock. They have really impressed the FDNY folks. They ask for those “Washington guys” when they want help with a difficult task. Just as they did in Oklahoma, our team has made a very positive impression with everyone on the incident. The bad news is that no new victims were recovered. I spent about an hour talking to one FDNY firefighter who survived. These guys are finally realizing that it is highly unlikely that anyone is coming out alive. The reality is finally setting in as funerals begin and memorials are held. They will be a long time in coming to terms with this event. This guy lost 35 close friends in a matter of seconds. I cannot imagine such a loss. The reality is that we have just scratched the surface of this structure with all the time and work that has been done. Looking at the two mounds that are the twin towers, one realizes that it will take a very long time and some very heavy equipment to clear away all the steel. In Oklahoma by this time we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We haven’t even entered the tunnel yet and there is no light. It looks like we will be demobilizing on the 26th or 27th.