former world trade center

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“Bretagne” Last known 9/11 Ground Zero search dog still lends a helping paw. #RescueDogs #NeverForget #Honor911

By Laura T. Coffey: TODAY
9/10/14

Some heroes boast muscle and brawn. Others possess steely nerves and impeccable timing. But this hero is a little different.

This one has feathery fur, a sunny smile, a calm nature and — for a dog — an uncanny ability to zero in on the people who need her most. She’s a 15-year-old golden retriever named ‘Bretagne’, and she’s believed to be the last surviving search dog who worked at Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (One other surviving search dog from 9/11, a 15-year-old English springer spaniel named Morgan, worked at Staten Island.)

For the first time since the recovery efforts after the attack, Bretagne returned this week to the site of the former World Trade Center complex with her longtime handler and owner, Denise Corliss of Cypress, Texas. They were joined by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, who will tell their story on TODAY on Thursday morning, Sept. 11.

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When a man-made disaster of unfathomable scope strikes your city and its central symbol of prosperity has been leveled to ruin — and it’s your job to jolt it into resurgence — where do you begin?

Only hours had passed after the planes struck New York City’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, when then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani made a promise to rebuild: “We’re not only going to rebuild, we’re going to come out of this stronger than we were before.”

Four months later, New York’s new mayor, Michael Bloomberg, stood on the flag-clad steps of City Hall and echoed that promise: “We will rebuild, renew and remain the capital of the free world. … In the next four years I will devote myself to building a better New York.”

Days later, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, Dan Doctoroff, assembled the heads of the city’s many agencies in one room. He made a big request: Each team was to produce a strategic plan and a timeline for the next year. Regular updates would be presented at what would become monthly meetings.

People were dumbfounded, Doctoroff says. Part of it was the how: “No one had ever done PowerPoint before,” he says. But also the what: “There was never that kind of level of City Hall-driven coordination on such a large scale.” It’s been decades since New York City had a citywide comprehensive planning vision.

How New York City Rebuilt Anew After Its Darkest Day

Photos: Spencer Platt/Getty Images, Mario Tama/Getty Images (2), Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Former World Trade Center tower, now vacant, 2 Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 22, 2014.