After 9/11, NY firefighter finds a new life in Clovis

CLOVIS, Calif.

In early December 2001, hundreds of New York City Police and Firefighters arrived in Fresno on chartered airplanes; the guests of then Pelco CEO David McDonald. They were honored as a memorial to the fallen was dedicated.

Firefighter Andy Isolano found something more and came back year after year. "I wanted to be here instead of there. This is going to help me move on."

Like many who toiled in the rubble of the twin towers, he developed lung issues and was forced to retire and feel the weight of those losses. "The responding in and the digging we did for months trying to find our friends."

He left New York and moved to the Fresno/Clovis area. He opened a New York Deli. The recession saw its end in 2009.

Isolano now works for the Clovis Police Department as a Community Service Officer. "I'm enjoying myself, I'm out here helping to clean up Clovis."

He says it is Michelle who changed his luck and his life. When they first met she was grieving the loss of a young son. He was trapped by his days at ground zero.

Michelle said, "He has proven to me that life does go on. It never goes away but it does get better. And you have to focus on today because we're not guaranteed tomorrow."

They married two years ago. Each has two children and together they are learning how to be a blended family. They credit each other for opening the door that brought them peace and a relationship neither had ever experienced.

"I always say there's a reason I made it that day, and maybe this is the reason. And I can't think of a better reason."

Like the City of New York and its many citizens connected to that fatal autumn day ten years ago, Andy Isolano will never forget. But here in California, he's on the mend.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.