They broke off into groups of a dozen and got to work collecting bricks and salvageable materials from the rubble.
Wrecks were being broken up, with salvageable material used for newer homes.
1640s, "payment for saving a ship from wreck or capture," from French salvage (15c.), from Old French salver "to save" (see save (v.)). The general sense of "the saving of property from danger" is attested from 1878. Meaning "recycling of waste material" is from 1918, from the British effort in World War I.
1889, from salvage (n.). Related: Salvaged; salvaging.
To steal; loot; liberate (WWI Army)