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Text: Briefing on New York City Recovery Effort

eMediaMillWorks
eMediaMillWorks
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001

Following is the transcript of a briefing given by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on the status of search and recovery efforts at the site of the attack on the World Trade Center.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GIULIANI: ... overnight and continuing as I speak.

To give you a sense of the dimension of it, we've so far removed 49,553 tons to fresh kills. I have some of the sanitation workers here with me that--Guy, why don't you join us? Guy Mulinari (ph), join us.

I have some of the sanitation workers here with me who I just congratulated because we know the work of the Fire Department and the Police Department and I've mentioned the Correction Department that has so many volunteers involved in it, but our uniformed services are all participating and doing very, very difficult work.

The Sanitation Department has been involved since the first day and so far has removed 49,553 tons, 3,788 trucks, and if it weren't for their skilled work in removing it, we would not be able to do the other rescue and recovery efforts, and they have worked round-the-clock. And then they have also made sure that they've cleaned up the parts of the city we've been able to open, including sensitive environmental tests. So we should be very, very proud of our Sanitation Department. They're doing an absolutely unbelievably difficult job and doing it very, very well.

We have now recovered--at least we can classify 218 people as having died, 152 identified, 66 bodies still to be identified. Of that overall number, 37 are uniformed officers: 32 fire; 2 EMT; 2 Port Authority police officers and one New Jersey Fire Department.

I know the question is about the effort and how long it's going to continue and how to describe it. The chances of recovering any live human beings are very, very small now, given the amount of time and the condition of the site. Those changes are not totally, however, ended or over. So we will still conduct ourselves as a rescue effort as well as a recovery effort, but we don't have any substantial amount of hope that we can offer to anyone that we're going to be able to find anyone alive. That doesn't mean that we're still not trying just as hard as we would if we had more substantial hope. That's the way our firefighters are, that's the way all of the teams that have come to help us are, the police department, but we have to prepare people for the overwhelming reality that the chance of recovering anyone alive is very, very small. We still hope and pray but the change is very, very small.

Just to give a sense of the enormity of this task and how dedicated people are in trying to help find people, recover them, save them or be able to help us with this, we have 11 urban search and rescue teams here at any given time.

Some are being rotated from all over the country. At any given time, that's over 1,000 uniformed officers from other parts of the country who are experts in search and rescue. We utilize about 1,200 firefighters, over 100 police officers and 100 correction officers that are just part of the search and rescue.

We've had fire departments from Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Sacramento and so many other places help us. And at some appropriate point we'll mention all of them, because it really is quite impressive, and it's a wonderful outpouring of care and concern for the city of New York.

We're very concerned about small businesses, to make sure that they are able to function, they're able to get through this. They may be going through a difficult period, some of them, restaurants, other businesses. But there's a lot of help available for them. The Small Business Administration has located two offices in the city of New York. They're co-located with city and state offices that also help with economic development. 633 Third Avenue is one; 80 Pine (ph) Street is the other.

If you want information about SBA financing, and a number of businesses have already applied for it and some have already been given it, you can call 1-800-462-9029. That's 1-800-462-9029, and that's the general phone number for FEMA, and they can register you and put you right through. And there's also a web site, sba.gov/disaster. That's for small businesses that need help.

We are specifically going to reach out to restaurants and to Broadway plays to see if they need some transitional help, because we may be going through a period, we probably are, in which people, even people who are not afraid and certainly willing to do different things, might just not feel like going to a Broadway play or a restaurant, and we want to make sure they get through this period of time.

So we're specifically going to reach out to them, and they should call us, if they need help, loans, other financial assistance, to get through this period, because things are going to be, you know, obviously, different two, three and four weeks from now, and we want to get them through this period.

We also urge people who have the best of intentions, please do not go to the site in order to view it or in order to be helpful without letting us know in advance. You're not helping when you do that, you're actually making things more complicated for the enormous task that's going on of moving people in and moving enormous amounts of debris out and doing it safely.

We have lots of groups of people, sports teams, performers, schools, that want to go there, and some just go, and then the efforts of the people involved are diverted to having to deal with, like, large numbers of people that want to come.

And they're coming for all of the best of reasons. They're coming because they care, they're coming because they're traumatized, they're coming because they believe they can be helpful, and under normal circumstances they probably could. And we want them to be able to do that. But it would be far better if they called us first and we figured out how they can be helpful.

Like some of the sports teams, it might be more useful if they went to the family center and were able to help comfort some of the families. Or we could arrange a way in which they could meet with and bolster up the morale and spirit of the rescue workers. But it's much better if w3e arrange it than if people just go ahead and do it.

And we're going to take members of the Senate, members of Congress, to the site, because we think it's enormously important for them to be able to view it directly. There is no one that I've talked to that isn't enormously supportive. I don't know that they need any more encouragement to be supportive. But I do believe there is something very, very different that happens when you actually get to see it. I think that all of the pictures on television, all the photographs that you can take of it say one thing, actually seeing it says another.

And we'll try to arrange that in an orderly way and in a way that doesn't interfere with the operations that are going on. And I'm taking a group there shortly, and we're going to use a police boat and come around the back so that we don't disrupt the operation and yet the members of Congress get a chance to see first hand the devastation that's been caused and the aftereffects of this terrible attack on America.

Transportation in the city, actually the city was very crowded today, and transportation to the city was considerably more people than we anticipated for the fact that this is Rosh Hashanah. The anticipation yesterday was that today would be a fairly light day, as it very often is, most often is, because it's a Jewish holiday. But the reality is that there were a lot of cars that came into the city, a lot of people that use public transportation. Seventeen thousand people on the Staten Island Ferry, 1,037 on the Sunset Park Ferry, 8,200 came into Pier 11. The subways were pretty crowded and the highways were even more crowded.

I urge people once again to use public transportation. You really will help us a lot if you confine yourself, use public transportation. It may be crowded, but you're going to get there faster and you're not going to have the problems of the big backups on the bridges and the highways.

We've established a phone number for the Twin Towers Fund. The phone is 877-870-4278. And we'll put out the information for their web site and everything else a little bit later.

I also once again warn people that anybody calling you to ask you for donations is probably a con man. I don't know of any organization that is involved in legitimate efforts to raise money for this very worthy cause, and it is, because the families here are entitled to know at least one thing in the tragedy that they're now experiencing, and that is that they're not alone, that as they recognize and deal with the fact that they have lost a loved one, they should also realize that all of America stands behind them in helping to educate their children, keep their homes, and keep their families together. I have seen the donations and the resources, and the desire of people to donate money. And at least that part of their lives will be secure for the rest of their lives. There's plenty of outpouring and desire to do that.

On the other hand, be careful of people calling up raising money. I can't imagine any reason why anybody would call up and raise money for this, except if there is some game they are playing, and unfortunately, it happens in tragedies like this.

So there are established charities, established Web sites, established telephone numbers, you call them, if they are starting to calling you, there's something wrong going on. I think that covers just about everything that I can cover right now.

Why don't you ask me one or two questions, and then I'm going to leave, and then I'll have the police commissioner, fire commissioner, Randy and everyone else answer your questions.

(END OF AUDIO FEED)

© 2001 The Washington Post Company