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CNN Today

Residents Returning to Los Alamos

Aired May 16, 2000 - 2:35 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, just as firefighters appear to have earned the upper hand in Los Alamos, New Mexico, flame-fanning winds are blowing again today. At the same time, though, the city is taking steps for returning to normal.

CNN's Greg LaMotte has the latest on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Los Alamos may be damaged, but it's still alive. Workers at a local grocery store are busy as bees restocking shelves.

EARL CARRASCO, GROCERY STORE MANAGER: The store is about up and running 100 percent. Everything's been replaced: new meat, fresh produce, fresh bakery, fresh deli, everything.

LAMOTTE: Employees never happier to be back at work. Even the shoppers are excited to be here.

KIM NEW, LOS ALAMOS RESIDENT: Well, it feels great to see everybody, and everybody's being extra friendly this morning, and I can barely push my cart. Having to refill a complete refrigerator is a big task.

LAMOTTE: Lights are on, electricity is flowing, and so are the cars into town after a week of disaster, a week of anguish, a week of uncertainty.

FERNANDO TURREZ, AUTO PARTS STORE MANAGER: Once we came in this morning, though, there wasn't any sign of any damage to the store. No smoke damage. No ash in the lot. So everything looks good to go.

LAMOTTE: Eighty percent of the town has reopened. Not so for these neighborhoods. It will take months, maybe even years, before these streets come back to life.

Fred McNiff was fortunate: just smoke damage at his place. He went to insurance agents at a mobile claims office.

FRED MCNIFF, LOS ALAMOS RESIDENT: I really didn't expect anything, and they treated me well, and they gave me a check for $1,000 to cover (UNINTELLIGIBLE) expenses, and said, if we needed more, they'd be more than happy to take care of it. LAMOTTE: So how long will it take the victims to get paid?

JOE GACIOCH, INSURANCE AGENT: New Mexico has a law. The insurance department wants us to settle claims within 90 days, and we're going to do everything we can to try to fulfill that.

LAMOTTE: While life is coming back to Los Alamos, so too may the fires: 50 mile per hour wind gusts are forecast. Fire officials say burning embers could be blown as much as a mile away, starting new fires.

Certainly residents here are concerned, but for now, their main concern is getting their lives back to normal.

Greg LaMotte, CNN, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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