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CNN Today

Families of USS Cole Sailors Gather in Norfolk

Aired October 13, 2000 - 1:25 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: You're looking at a picture of U.S. flags flying at half-staff today near the White House. President Clinton ordered the flags lowered out of respect for the sailors who died in the attack on the USS Cole. The flags will remain at half- staff until sunset Monday.

Perhaps no community has been shaken more by the USS Cole attack than Norfolk, Virginia. It is the ship's home port. It is also where family members are gathering to wait for more information.

CNN's Mark Potter has more from the Norfolk Naval Station -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Norfolk, Virginia, the USS Cole's home port, the Navy has been meeting with family members trying to keep them informed. It is also offering lodging and support services for those who need it. That would include chaplains and grief counseling.

In the neighboring communities, including Norfolk, the residents are also offering their sympathies and support for the family members. Flags throughout town are flying at half-staff. Relatives are being offered hotel rooms and food.

The director of the Navy Family Services Center said that sort of support is very important and is much appreciated at such a time of tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHY STOKOE, DIRECTOR, NAVY FAMILY SERVICE CENTER: We're very lucky in the Norfolk area that we have a strong military community and civilian community that pulls together whenever there's anything like this happens. It's a great place to be, and there's support out there for the various families. There were friends and families and co- workers all calling and checking on the families. The Family Service Center has counselors. There's chaplains.

We have so many people that have called just to see what they can do. Could they volunteer? Could they provide food? What could they do for the families? It's been a strong outpouring.

(END VIDEO CLIP) POTTER: Yesterday was a particularly difficult day for all the families, because they had to wait hours for information. The Navy says it waited until it had confirmation before it released information to the next of kin, not wanting to make a mistake at such a critical time. But that long wait was very hard on the families.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says, "Yes, your son is alive, but he's wounded." And I asked, "How bad is wounded, is wounded?"

"We don't know."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I called the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) earlier tonight to find out what's going on and put on hold for two hours. Nobody will talk to you. We keep getting a recording saying you have 10 minutes to wait, and you're sitting there, you're sitting there. So I still don't know if he's dead, alive, injured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry for the other families' losses, but I'm just so glad that my son's OK. I'm just so glad. It took us a long time to hear, but when we finally got the news that he was OK...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a long day. It's the longest day I've ever, ever spent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Security here at Norfolk and at other Navy bases in the country and around the world has been heightened now and already commemorative events are being planned.

Mark Potter, CNN, Norfolk, Virginia.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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