The End Of The Recovery Effort

Arial view of the site of collapsed World Trade Center towers, New York City, WTC, Ground Zero, March 2002 AP

At the cross that once was a part of the twin towers, a tightly knit family of iron workers, firefighters, rescue workers and volunteers gathered Sunday for the final mass before recovery operations here end, reports CBS News correspondent Mika Brzezinski.

"It won't be an easy day for anyone. Anyone who says it is, is either a liar or a fool," said the Rev. Brian Jordan of St. Francis of Assissi.

Ever since Sept. 11, Jordan has pastured this unusual fellowship of people. Together, they have removed 1.6 million tons of debris, scoured for the remains of 2,830 people who perished. All the while struggling with their own emotions.

"I've heard of my father's friends having a Pearl Harbor fellowship and they still meet 60 years later. I believe we will have a fellowship at ground zero 60 years into the future," said Jordan.

The end of the work here will be an emotional turning point. Psychiatrist Roy Lubit, who has counseled family members and workers, says the final day will be challenging, even traumatic.

"They've worked with corpses and body parts. It has been terribly painful, it has stirred up lots of feelings in general. They have been able to keep those feelings down because they have been so busy because they don't let themselves think those feelings are going to start bubbling up," said Lubit, with St. Vincent's Medical Center

The workers at Ground Zero have been living Sept. 11 day and night. The end of the operation will be the first time that many will reconnect with their families and go back to their regular jobs.

"The physical clean-up is coming to an end but the emotional mental clean up has barely begun for this city," said Lubit.

The job of deciding what to do with the site has just started. Rev. Jordan is hopeful that whatever replaces the twin towers will reflect more than the spirit of those who died.

"We've seen evil at it's best and goodness at it's best," said Jordan.

While the recovery effort at Ground Zero has been extraordinary, it will have been incomplete for the families who lost loved ones. Jerry Dechauncey's cousin is one of the 1,822 still missing.

"I don't think that they are going to identify everybody, but I think we got to somehow come to grips with that and do whatever we have to do to get that closure," Dechauncey said.

But the end of the cleanup takes this ground zero fellowship into uncharted territory.
  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.

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