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America Under Attack: Weather Hindering Rescue Operation

Aired September 14, 2001 - 02:04   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.
JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Well it's just after two o'clock in the morning on the east coast of the United States. Recovery operations continuing in Washington and in Manhattan. In New York, there's some concern that the weather might complicate the efforts there.

CNN's Garrick Utley is monitoring the situation -- Garrick.

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN ANCHOR: There was a heavy thunderstorm, Jim, with lightning striking all around Manhattan Island a short while ago. The worst of that storm has been moving through and it did, perhaps, slow down work for a short while. But, obviously, the workers are going to continue on their 24-hour basis; they can put on the rain jackets and ponchos and slickers and keep going through that rubble there.

But since it is a little bit after 2 AM east coast time in New York in the city, as the cliche goes: A city that never sleeps. And of course, these days, a lot of people are finding it very difficult to sleep, particularly if they have friends and relatives who were lost in the World Trade Center disaster.

We wanted to check in to find out what some of those who can't sleep, perhaps, at this hour, have been doing. Because there's a center, a gathering point in Manhattan at an armory where people have been coming all day during the day. And occasionally, somebody comes by in the evening to exchange information, to ask people whether they can give them any kind of a help or indication as to when their loved ones were last seen in the World Trade Center.

It's a human gathering point, and our Jodi Ross is there. Jodi.

Do we have Jodi Ross over at the armory now?

JODI ROSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Garrick, the weather -- the inclement weather -- down at the World Trade Center might be affecting the rescue efforts down there, but the rescue effort here continues. There's food being delivered right behind me at the armory. They've actually told me they're in desperate need of towels and dog food for the canine units here.

So, again, people are still around -- it's a much more sparse crowd -- but we are joined again by two family members in search of a loved one. Derrick (ph) and Cynthia (ph), it's a brother and brother- in-law, respectively, that you are looking for. DERRICK: Yes.

ROSS: Can you tell me a little bit about him?

DERRICK: His name is Uhurugon Dehuston (ph). He's a port authority officer; he's been working at the World Trade Center for approximately for a year or two. Before that he was stationed at the port authority bus terminal. I'm understanding that he was on duty there probably undercover that morning. His tour of duty is normally 7 to 3 AM. One of his coworkers had told me that right before the building collapsed that he had spoken to him and they went separate ways.

He was able to make it out -- his coworker was -- right before the building did collapse. And we have no word, up until this point, where he may be. We're hopeful that he's, you know -- he's OK, I believe that he's OK.

And we're just hoping that the rescue workers that are working so diligently down there -- these guys are giving up their blood, sweat and tears -- we're hoping that they're able to get to my brother, as well as all the other people that we know that are still underneath the disaster area. That they may be able to rescue them before we have more of a collapse due to the weather or something of that nature.

ROSS: Right. And you're both wearing masks, which makes me think you've made an attempt to go down to the disaster area. How close did you get, and were you doing your own search down there?

DERRICK: We weren't able to complete or even venture into a search. It was pretty strict trying to get across Fourteenth Street. We made it down to St. Vincent's Hospital on Eleventh Street, but there are a lot of police officers and military personnel, and they're down there and they're just trying to keep the area clear and free for the emergency vehicles to get in and out and do what they have to do there.

ROSS: Cynthia, I know you're having a difficult time with this as well. Can you discuss your feelings with me at all? Describe the feelings at all?

CYNTHIA: Just, this whole situation is a tragedy not only for us, on a personal level, but on a global level. It's sad, but you can't give up hope. And so we're still hopeful and we just can't think anything but that he's still alive and that we're going to find him. And any help that we can get in doing that is greatly appreciated.

ROSS: If you could get a message to him right now, what would you say?

CYNTHIA: Hang in there and know that we love you and, you know, we're out here in two o'clock in the morning trying to ...

DERRICK: Sonya (ph) and Hasani (ph) and Haina (ph), they're waiting for you and they need you to come home. CYNTHIA: Yes.

DERRICK: So if anyone has seen him or knows his whereabouts, if you can get to a phone -- we know you got a phone, we know you're trying to get to a phone to call Sonya. Call somebody and let us know that you're all right.

ROSS: OK. All right, you guys. Thank you and good luck.

CYNTHIA: Thank you.

ROSS: Again, so many stories tonight. So many different people that we speak to.

The rain was really bad a short time ago and that made some of the people scatter from this area and go home and find shelter. But I have to say, the posters, the signs, the pictures that they've posted, those have not come down. It seems nothing, not even bad weather, could make these images disappear.

Garrick, back to you.

UTLEY: Thank you very much. Jodi Ross, there at the armory.

Of course, we've been focusing in these last few days -- and now reports from those who are missing and perhaps even lost -- for very good and understandable reasons. But the explosions that brought down those twin towers in lower Manhattan, they had, of course, ripple effects -- perhaps, even we should say, shock waves that spread out -- particularly hitting those who lived, whose personal lives were led in apartments and small homes in the area around the World Trade Center.

Now what they've found suddenly was that they had no power. The whole area had been secured by police so rescue efforts could be continued. They couldn't really move in or out easily. And perhaps there's even structural dangers in the buildings they were living in.

And so, the time would come for many of these people when they had to leave home. They were told that they were being evacuated. No questions, "Get out, move, we've got transportation for you." And when that time comes, it's an emotional, wrenching moment.

Here's a report from our Jason Bellini, who followed some of these people.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wednesday night, the mixture of dust and smoke became unbearable, in the minds of the authorities at least who decided to evacuate people living in apartments near the smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center.

CADUCO (ph): I want to go back. They said, "No can go back anymore no more." So I no have clothes, I no have medicine, nothing.

BELLINI: What kind of medicine do you need? CADUCO: I think I have cancer. I take it cancer.

BELLINI: Caduco and her neighbors had no choice in the matter. Evacuation notice came suddenly. The buses were already waiting downstairs. When Caduco was told to leave her apartment, she didn't quite get it. So that's why she took nothing with her. Most of her neighbors took the first things that came to mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wherever I go, this goes with me.

BELLINI: Wherever you go, this goes with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Sonny Rollins, one of the top jazz saxophonists in the world.

BELLINI (on camera): These residents of 310 Greenwich Street found out just moments ago that they're getting on the bus for the location of the shelter they're being taken to. What happens when they get there, they have no idea.

(voice-over): Caduco says she has no family. She'll try to contact a friend later tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. I'm just as afraid as you are.

BELLINI: When they unboard at the shelter, some neighbors dispersed, going to stay with friends and family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's OK.

BELLINI: Others, including Caduco, will sleep in the shelter, at least on this night.

CADUCO: I have to talk to a doctor to maybe get some medicine or not, before I get medicine, then maybe I call my family.

BELLINI: Caduco takes it in stride. She thinks it's all going to be OK.

Jason Bellini, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

UTLEY: And so quickly, so suddenly, a shelter becomes a home or at least a hostile. For how long? Who knows. Colleen.

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: Garrick, thanks so much.

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