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America Under Attack: Life In New York This Morning

Aired September 14, 2001 - 04:00   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.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile in New York, inclement weather is slowing rescue operations. However, with more than 4,700 still missing, the work goes on.

Garrick Utley joins us live from New York with the latest. Garrick.

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Despite the thunderstorm, electrical storms, the lightening strikes, which has interrupted the work, the workers are not disappearing and it is expected to resume as soon as possible there.

As we've been reporting Ralitsa, and as we all know -- we're looking now at lower Manhattan. There you can see the lights at the work site and some of the plume of smoke rising there. As we know, that what we're looking at is the financial heart of the world, of the world economy. And indeed, the fact that the stock exchange is down there in the Wall Street area have been closed this week, will not reopen until Monday, has had a profound impact on, sort of, financial psychology worldwide.

And I thought it might be interesting just to take a moment to recall how Wall Street and that financial heart of the world economy came to be. It was in the late 1700s that some American entrepreneurs, investors and the young America of that time, late 1700s, wanted a place to get together and buy and sell shares in these young fledgling companies that grow and make the American economy what it was.

But there were no stock exchanges so where did they meet? Well, they met each day under a Buttonwood tree and there informally bought and sold the shares with little slips of paper. Well, over the years, that grew. Stock exchanges were built. They'd have their ups and downs. And in many ways, that whole process culminated at the end of the 20th Century with the construction of two 110-story twin towers called the World Trade Center.

Stop and think about that for a moment. It took more than 200 years to culminate with those two towers that shadowed over Wall Street, the heart of the financial capital of the world. It took one hour last Tuesday to bring them down.

Well, just before that thunderstorm struck this evening, that work site where the towers stood was full of activity. And our Alessio Vinci, who's been monitoring the rescue effort there offered us this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Five hundred yards behind me, the rescue operation is continuing. It is now more than two days that the rescue workers are shifting through the debris and trying to find if more people or any people can be found alive underneath there. The workers there -- there is a big security concern for the rescue workers.

Earlier today, some of the workers were asked to leave an area around the building, as it appears that this building was shifting. Of course, among the many thousands of people who are still missing, there are still 300 firefighters, 30 police officers and 30 Port Authority police. And certainly, the people there who are trying to sift through the debris, they are first and foremost concerned with their security. One of the buildings were also -- was also evacuated.

As you can see, there is a lot of activity here, ambulances going in. There is a long line of trucks going inside and trying to take some of the debris. We understand more than 6,000 tons of debris have been removed so far to Staten Island. They've been brought to Staten Island. The FBI is going through it. The latest official account is 184 sets of human remains found so far. Forty-seven have -- are already -- 47 are entire bodies and only 35 of them have been identified -- have been identified.

The number of missing people, more than 4,700 -- more than 4,700, among them, of course, the people, the Americans who were working inside the World Trade Center, but also many foreigners, many people from Germany, from Japan, from Britain. That number again, 4,700 -- more than 4,700 missing.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, reporting from Manhattan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

UTLEY: And throughout Manhattan, of course, as life returns to more or less normality these days, there's always this question about the New York temperament, New Yorkers being seen as being obnoxious, obstreperous, very difficult. Are they -- are we a different breed?

Well, one reason perhaps that image exists is because people in New York have to live differently than people across the nation. There are no backyards here. There's really no space. So people here, seven million of them, live close to one another. Many of them live in, sort of, a dormitory living, these high rising apartment buildings. Maybe that explains some of this different temperament.

We thought it'd be interesting to get a different perspective of the New Yorker, not from somebody who lives here but from an out of towner. Our Bruce Burkhardt, who works for CNN and reports for CNN, from Atlanta. Here's his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As devastating as this was, as unimaginable sad as this was, as much as the worst- case scenario almost looks good compared to this, there's something else that has emerged from the rubble.

(on camera): Something that is oddly reassuring to a non New Yorker like myself, who's ventured into this city at such a time, something that proves New York is much more than its distinctive, though now altered skyline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pistol.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): It is an attitude, as described as well, yeah, that kind of, describes it, but not completely. It is not a place that likes to show off its soft underbelly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hurt, we have pain and we bleed. We tend to be able to handle adversity better than the average person in the rest of the country.

BURKARDT: Are you surprised by New Yorkers and how they deal with this thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't think so because they've always done this.

BURKARDT (on camera): And in America, where the physical landscape has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, with its strict laws and developments, walking in New York is like strolling through a 1950's black and white movie.

(voice-over): Even now, an enduring sameness, the skyscrapers, the hustle-bustle, the sea of yellow cabs and that "why, I ought to pound you" attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope we strike back and I hope we strike back hard.

BURKARDT: But despite the tough words and the superficial return to normality, people lining up for Broadway tickets, friends meeting for coffee just blocks from ground zero, despite all this, normality is still a long way off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I think the anger is going to come. But right now, everybody you speak to is just sad.

BURKARDT: Sadness, almost debilitating sadness. But with it, something uniquely New York, a certain defiance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell Andy (ph) and Betty (ph) in Indiana, Jan (ph) and Joey (ph) are fine.

BURKHARDT: We will. Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) UTLEY: Of course, the old saying is that New York is a great place to visit but I never would want to live there. And yet, look at the figures. Others have different views because according to their most recent census of the United States and the city of New York, the population of this town has actually gone up. Ralitsa?

VASSILEVA: Garrick, thank you.

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