We knew the Hard Rock Hotel collapse in New Orleans would lead to an extended cleanup and investigation, even before the work could begin to get the site back on track for development. Now that knowledge is becoming a hard reality.

Recently, New Orleans Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell said the work is likely to take several more months, deep into next year. At a news conference at Elk and Canal streets, McConnell and Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, discussed the next steps. McConnell said it’s going to take about two months to shore up the unstable building before officials can send in investigators and workers who can recover evidence to determine what happened and recover the bodies of the two workers who remain inside.

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“We know it’s going to take two months, at least, to shore up, so we’re talking about the end of February,” the chief said. “Then it’s going to take about 30 days to get the victim recovery and evidence recovery.”

That means it’ll be the end of March, at a minimum, before a total demolition can start.

We’re glad to see that the city is moving along with proposals to address a construction project that has become a dangerous eyesore.

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Before what remains is torn down, the partially collapsed structure has to be supported with heavy equipment in between floors. Only then can 1031 Canal Development LLC, the same construction firm building the structure that collapsed, start demolishing what’s left.

The biggest concern is the recovery of the bodies of the two people who lost their lives during the Oct. 12 collapse. Things are so unstable that rescuers, recovery specialists and now investigators have not been able to get to the areas where city officials believe the two are buried among debris. In the days after the collapse, city officials focused on imploding the building. But that plan changed.

As much as we grieve with the families of those who were victims of the collapse, we know the highest priority must be avoiding future loss of life and injuries and preventing damage to buildings in the 1000 block of Canal Street, including some that are historic.

The Hard Rock collapse was a great tragedy of 2019. Dealing with its aftermath will be a continuing theme in 2020.