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Washington Assesses Earthquake DamageAired March 2, 2001 - 1:33 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Washington state, Lou, it may be weeks before officials there know the complete damage assessment from this week's earthquake.
CNN's Tony Clark is there; he joins us now with the latest.
Oh, it looks so beautiful behind you, Tony, it's hard to believe what happened there this week.
TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Natalie -- and that's exactly why we wanted to come up here. For the past few days we have shown you the rubble, the disaster -- damage estimates upwards of $2 billion; this area, six counties declared federal disaster areas. But we wanted to put that in perspective, to show you a little bit of Washington state, and show you as it is today.
In fact, if you go down on the streets around the Seattle area, you can see that so much of this area doesn't show the signs of that 6.8 earthquake from Wednesday. And a lot of the credit, officials say, goes to the kind of planning that's been going on here, especially over the last 10 years -- really going back the last 30 years, as this whole portion of the country has tried to prepare itself for earthquakes. Buildings that were built from 1970 on, meeting earthquake standards; buildings being retrofitted to withstand strong earthquakes. There's been $65 million just in the last 10 years to strengthen bridges.
Now what we're seeing is the success of those programs and, according to Governor Gary Locke, things are getting quite back to normal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GARY LOCKE, WASHINGTON: Our airports are running; our Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has slight delays because they're not able to bring in or send out as many flights per hour as normal. But it is fully functioning; businesses are back in operation. Within a few hours people were actually dining in the space needle. People are out and about and so -- people are back in school -- things are really back to normal. It's just several businesses and homeowners and apartment dwellers are engaged in a lot of cleanup, perhaps, at nights or on weekends.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CLARK: As the governor mentioned, Sea-Tac airport suffered damage from the earthquake. The tower -- the control tower damaged and the air traffic controllers had to move to a temporary tower. Tomorrow that temporary tower will be raised to about 80 feet -- 80, 100 feet, which will improve the number of flights going in and out. It will give them more control so more flights in and out will be able to go in and out of Sea-Tac airport. Today it is operating at about 60 percent of normal capacity, but that's expected to improve tomorrow.
But as I say, things are getting very much back to normal. That is not to downplay the damage that occurred here. There are many buildings -- often historic buildings, brick facade buildings that were damaged. Structural engineers continue to go around this part of Washington state, checking the security of buildings. In Olympia, the state capitol complex, those buildings being checked out. State employees expected to be able to go back to work on Monday. The state legislature probably having to find a new place to hold their sessions while the capitol is being checked for its structural soundness. But on the whole, Washington state has fared very well considering the seriousness of this earthquake -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And so, all of that said, we all know this was a pretty big earthquake for the Seattle area. It could have been a first for many people. Have you talked with anyone still, Tony, who may have trouble sleeping at night?
CLARK: Well, you know, it's interesting, Natalie. I talked to the governor earlier today, and he was talking about his kid, because the governor's mansion was damaged in the earthquake -- his children were there. And he said as he was leaving the house this morning, the door -- he can't live in the mansion now, he's living at his home here in the Queen Anne section -- he was pulling his door closed and it made kind of a noise, a booming sound, and he said his daughter came out and was scared. She thought maybe there was another earthquake that was happening.
And so he said, you know, especially the children -- they need to have their parents to talk to them about the earthquake; there is still that concern, that fear, because this was a very powerful earthquake that hit this part of Washington state.
ALLEN: You can imagine; but thank you for the picturesque view you're giving us of such a beautiful area of the country. Thanks, Tony Clark in Seattle.
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