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Text: Giuliani on Relief, Recovery Efforts

eMediaMillWorks
eMediaMillWorks
Friday, Sept. 14, 2001

Following is the transcript of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's news conference on relief and recovery efforts in New York, with New York Governor George Pataki and FBI Assistant Director Barry Mawn. Giuliani also asked the media to watch out for misinformation when reporting on the tragedy.

GIULIANI: Good morning.

Obviously, everyone is concerned about the impact of the weather on the relief and recovery efforts, and there's no question that they're hampered by it. Things have to proceed more carefully, more cautiously. At the same time, they're going on, because there is still a strong hope that we'll be able to recover people and find people and save them.

So we will try very hard to conduct the operations today, obviously considering the fact that it's dangerous, or more dangerous than it otherwise would be. But they will go on, and hopefully we'll be able to find and save some people today.

The misinformation yesterday was a cause of real concern, and I'd like to explain at least a little bit about it and ask you, if you could, consider in reporting this information to be more patient than to just run with information before it's been verified.

Some of it is meaningless, ultimately, because it gets corrected, but some of it could be very, very dangerous and very emotionally damaging. Reports, for example, that there are people that we've discovered and been in contact with that aren't verified, aren't true.

And there was a report like that yesterday evening that a woman was in communication with people and there were 10 or 15 people in a store underneath. It was reported, it was reported rather widely, and it leads to lots of families becoming very, very hopeful and then finding out that it's just not plain true at all.

It also leads to sometimes a lot of activity that can be very dangerous, recovery activity and people who become very excited about it.

So please be more careful about reporting this information. There's no reason to run with it until it's actually verified by the police or by the FBI.

Same thing was true about the alleged arrests last night and information about box cutters and knives, none of which was verified by the police or the FBI, all of which was publicized, all of which turns out now to be untrue.

So if we could all be a little bit more patient and verify the information before we put it out, we won't raise people's hopes unnecessarily and we won't create a situation in which, you know, decisions are made that can endanger lives.

School is open today, and it opened on time. It'll be open, they'll be open again on Monday, except in the area that is still closed off, which is the area south of Canal Street. And that part of the city is still part of the recovery zone.

We're going to try today to carve out another area south of Canal Street that we can open over the weekend and particularly to have it open for Monday, and it would be the Wall Street area.

And therefore we would ask businesses there to start considering the fact that over the weekend they may want to come in and clean out and make sure that their buildings are able to operate on Monday.

I'll know better or 4:00 or 5:00 or 6:00, whenever we get back to briefing you, how much of the Wall Street area we can reopen, but we're going to try very hard to open up as much of it as possible for Monday.

The Staten Island ferry will also start operating, definitely on Monday, and we'll try to start these things over the weekend so that there's a shakedown before we actually get to Monday.

Businesses that need help, there are a lot of them. They should know that resources of the city, the state and the federal government are all there to assist them and to help them to reestablish, to reestablish themselves, so that not only they can recover what they lost, but so they can grow and prosper.

We ordinarily have lots of incentive packages and other programs that the state and the city do together to keep businesses in New York and to encourage businesses to come to New York. All those packages are now going to be assisted by the legislation that was passed in Albany yesterday and the legislation that apparently is going to pass in Washington that will make substantial amounts of money available to the city and state for exactly this purpose.

So we're trying to reach out to all of the businesses that are affected. We've put together city and state economic development operations to do that. And what we will do is give you a number later so that they can also call us. If we don't get to you--we will try--you get to us and we will work with you on figuring out what you need in order to get through this difficult period and then reestablish and grow.

We've taken out 10,425 tons of debris, 1,154 truck loads so far, and that's really to give you some sense of the monumental nature of the task that's going on. The people who are doing it are incredibly brave.

The reports yesterday of firefighters and others that were saved and taken to hospitals were also false. They were not firefighters and people who have been buried in the attack. They were people who got injured or hurt or got into some difficulties during the recovery effort yesterday.

So it is very good news that they were saved; it's wonderful. However, we also have to be careful about reporting that. And we also have to underscore how dangerous it is for what these men and women are doing.

Finally, a couple of warnings. There's a telemarketing firm that is calling people up asking for donations. If somebody calls you and asks for a donation to help the surviving families or the heroes or anything like that, call up the police or the FBI and tell us who's calling you, because we'll go out and arrest them. Nobody should be calling up and asking for donations.

There are people that are offering donations, and that's wonderful. But there's nobody that I know of, or the governor or anyone else, that has been authorized by anyone to be calling up and soliciting donations from people. If anybody is doing that--and there is one telemarketing group that is doing this, particularly from senior citizens--we would really like to catch them and make an example out of them, in the same way that we would like to catch some of the people that are calling in bomb threats.

This is a difficult time, it's a time in which people are more susceptible, more vulnerable than usual, and there are always, unfortunately, people trying to take advantage of that. But if we catch you, then we're going to try very hard to put you in jail.

On that note, Governor?

PATAKI: Mayor, thank you.

First, let me say that we're grateful the president is coming in this afternoon. And as we indicated yesterday, I think it's an important message and sign of his commitment to the ongoing effort to make sure that the people of America stand with the people of New York as we get through this. And we're extremely grateful to him for that.

We've thanked so many people. The police and firefighters have been so brave. The EMS groups. But I want to particularly than one particular group right now that are still out there working.

The Port Authority had its headquarters in the World Trade Center. It's been through devastating losses. Many of its top administrators are lost. Dozens of its police officers are lost. And yet right now out at the airports, out at the bridges in downtown Manhattan we have hundreds and hundreds of Port Authority workers, thousands of workers, out there standing shoulder to shoulder with everyone else, helping others instead of bearing their own grief. And I just wanted to thank them for their professionalism and the great job they are doing.

I also want to thank our command center bunker up in Albany. I don't know if they're watching right now. But they were activated by 9:30 Tuesday morning and they've been there ever since, many of them going 18, 20 hours a day helping to coordinate the effort with the city so that we could make sure whatever needs the city had we would be able to respond to as quickly as possible. And I want to thank them.

The mayor talked about the economic and the financial considerations that are under way right now. And just about two hours ago I talked with Chairman Bill Young of the Appropriations Committee, I talked with Senator Clinton, Senator Schumer and our House delegates. And we're very grateful to them, because it does look like this morning legislation will pass Congress authorizing significant and important financial help to the city of New York, to the tri-state area, and to all of those who are going through this difficulty.

And I just wanted to thank Senator Schumer, who I was on the phone with all night, and Senator Clinton. And in the House delegation, the whole delegation, but in particular about 1:00 this morning there was a meeting going on trying to decide what to do, and Congressman John Sweeney, Congressman Jim Walsh, both of whom are from upstate, were in that meeting with the speaker fighting very hard. And along with Senator Schumer they deserve a great deal of credit for making this appropriation possible to help us get through this.

As the mayor indicated, we are working as well on economic recovery. As I said yesterday, we set up an economic recovery assistance headquarters at 633 Third Avenue. This is a joint state and city effort, with the federal SBA and other federal agencies there as well, where a business seeking assistance can get, in one place, state, city, federal help to make sure that they can get back on their feet. And the entire 32nd floor has been allocated for this purpose, and there is a number operational, 212-818-1700, for businesses that want the help in getting back on their feet.

Finally, with respect to the contributions. We've been inundated with contributions from people across the state, and we are very, very grateful. It is just incredible to see this outpouring of public support for the families and for all of those who are going through this difficult recovery.

The city has the Twin Towers Fund. The United Way has its September 11 Fund. And the state has set up a fund, the World Trade Center Relief Fund, to take in all those contributions that have been made from across the state.

And as the mayor indicated, we are unaware of any legitimate group that is soliciting funds. But, obviously, donations are accepted. And we have a 1-800 number for those who want to donate, but it's probably going to be inundated, but I'll give it anyway. 1-800-801-8092. Or checks can be sent to P.O. Box 5028, Albany, New York. And these funds will be working with the Twin Towers Fund and with the United Way to make sure we coordinate our efforts to make sure that everything that can be done is done for the victims of this tragic incident.

So we'll get through this. And again, to the mayor, to the president, we're grateful that everyone is pulling together to make sure we put this behind us. Thank you.

MAWN: Good morning. Again, I'm Barry Mawn, and I'm the assistant director of the FBI here in New York.

Following on the mayor's comments, what I would like to just reiterate is again the whole investigative effort of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is the FBI, NYPD and a number of other federal agencies, is to identify the hijackers, their support systems, where they were since they've been in country.

And in that regard, we are doing numerous interviews, running down hundreds, if not thousands of leads around the country. We are responding to numerous calls from the airports. To reiterate what the mayor has already told you, the reporting that has been going on all night, I can definitively tell you, is inaccurate. We were out at both airports last evening. We did talk to approximately a dozen individuals.

(END OF AUDIO FEED)

© 2001 The Washington Post Company