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America Under Attack: New York Is Changed Forever

Aired September 13, 2001 - 06:56   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: In the early hours of yesterday when some of the smoke had cleared, people began taking stock of a New York changed forever.

CNN's Beth Nissen shows us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what New Yorkers woke up to this morning -- those who had managed to sleep at all during a night of surreal quiet. No planes overhead, no car alarms, strangely no sirens.

This morning, no traffic jams, no rush-hour crowds, no 110-story buildings where two had stood yesterday.

People rushed to buy up postcards, vibrant reminders of what New York City looked like on Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm used to seeing the Twin Towers, and this morning they weren't there. It was sad. It was just -- it's just hard.

NISSEN: Yesterday it was all so unreal, so distant. By today, it had hit home. So many people knew the name of someone who never called home yesterday, never came back from work -- a neighbor, a friend, a brother-in-law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what he looks like, and if anyone has seen anything, we'd appreciate them calling to try to help us out. The phone number is 718-432-5982. And anything that anyone can do to try us help us find him.

NISSEN: People who hadn't read a newspaper in months hunted down copies today, read every word, gasped at still photos that stopped the heart. It had happened. It had really happened.

Slowly today, the state of stun, the disbelief gave way -- in some cases to anger. In this city of fast moves and blunt words, there were many who wanted vengeance and a New York minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have always been a bleeding-heart liberal, but right now, I certainly feel a lot of anger and, you know -- I mean, there's a side of me that wants to see our government just go and whoever is an enemy, just hit them now and ask questions later.

NISSEN: But as most people began to comprehend what had happened at the World Trade Center, what had to have happened to all of those people, disbelief gave way to sorrow -- to great, aching sobbing.

So many people in this city of walkers walked with their heads hung low today, depressed, defeated somehow. The bad guy seemed to have won this time. Americans don't have much experience with defeat. New Yorkers don't ever admit it.

Hundreds lined up on the West Side Highway, the main access to the attack site, to offer their support, to rally their spirit.

But on the day after, just one long day, millions of New Yorkers are already so weary. New Yorkers don't wait well. And it had to wait for the phone call saying I'm fine, she's OK, or we haven't heard from him yet.

They had to wait for hard facts. How many saved? How many lost? Who did this, and why?

And today, they began to realize the waiting may last weeks, months, even years -- the waiting for answers, for comfort, for peace of mind, for justice, for the first day they wake up and don't immediately think of this.

Beth Nissen, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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