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A firsthand account

Clint Rhodes, Al Ryan, and Cooper Scott received an up-close look at the devastation of 'ground zero' where the World Trade Center Towers formerly stood in New York City.

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

"It's an absolute war zone." That was the opinion of three firefighters from the Central Platte Fire Department who got an up close and personal look at the destruction caused by last week's terroristic attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City.

Local firefighters Cooper Scott, Clint Rhodes and Al Ryan arrived in New York Friday night, helped in the clean-up efforts on Saturday and came back to Platte County on Sunday after being told there wasn't room for all the volunteers who had showed up to work the scene.

"There were people who would have paid to be able to go in there and help," said Scott.

Some phone calls by Rhodes eventually led to the three local men catching a flight to New York. The Salvation Army covered the cost of the trip.

The trio of Central Platte firefighters took on a project assisting a group of Chicago-based firefighters in cleaning out some restaurants and a Burger King right across from where the towers had stood.

"We just basically went in there and gutted those buildings. We turned the area into a first aid room and set it up for storage for tools and equipment," Scott said.

He said there were volunteer firemen, welders, plumbers, and construction workers nearly fighting each other just to get in there to help.

"People were so grateful, so appreciative. There were people patting us on the backs, stopping us, trying to feed us and offering us room and board," he remarked.

"We did about 16 hours worth of work in a nine-hour period," he said.

So, with an up close look at the destruction, what was his opinion of the area that has come to be known as 'ground zero?'

"My first impression is that you just can't describe it, you can't explain it. When you see it on TV the cameras are focusing on where the towers stood, but two blocks back there is a pile of fire trucks and police cruisers that were destroyed. I mean a pile of them," Scott explained.

"It's an absolute war zone. They've got a hell of a mess up there."

He said there literally was no more room for volunteers to operate, and many had to be turned away.

"They have an unlimited amount of manpower and equipment," Scott stated.

"But they were appreciative that we came up to help."