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Giuliani Discusses City Returning to Normal Life

Aired September 16, 2001 - 11:03   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at a shot that has become all too familiar: the New York skyline obscured by all that smoke and steam that continues to come out of what is known as ground zero. As you can see, thousands of rescue workers still working around the clock, racing against time. The mayor of the city says they will continue to view this as a rescue operation until all hope is gone.

The numbers, though, even the mayor can see they're not promising. The number of missing has gone up since yesterday, now believed -- 5,000 people are believed to be missing. There is an attempt to get some sense of normal life back, here. New York's three area airports are open today. They're running far fewer flights than normal.

A spokesman for the Port Authority says Newark International, which is one of the airports from which a plane was hijacked last week, is expect it'll handle about -- excuse me -- 700 flights a day, that's 75 percent of the airport's normal volume. Kennedy and La Guardia are scheduled to run about half the flights they normally schedule, and right now the mayor will give us even more updated information.

Let's dip in on the news conference.


MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI, NEW YORK: ... least get a few of these things out. First of all, during the course of today and then starting tomorrow, and then over two or three days, we're going to be transitioning the main work of the family center to the pier right above us, which is right off 57th street. And later on, when it's ready -- and it's just about ready -- they'll arrange for you to tour it and take a look at it, so that you can see the incredible work that's been done to make it into a family center that can accommodate the numbers that we're dealing with, which are now considerably larger than the armory can handle.

The armory will remain open. We'll be running shuttle buses from it, because people have gotten used to it. And then at some point, when the transition is made, the armory will go back to it's normal use, or whatever other use we're going to have to have for it, and then the family center here will take over all operations.

But the transition will start tomorrow, and it will take as long as it takes to transition everything into the family center that'll be here. And the armory will stay open for as long as people are still going there. The -- I went to see the family center last night. First time I looked at it was the day before, and in 24 hours, they have turned it into a state-of-the-art facility. And the only way that happened, really, is because of tremendous volunteer work. The Bovis Corporation oversaw the reconstruction, but we had tremendous help from Extenture (ph), from AOL-Time Warner, and from lots of other people.

And the other advantage of the family center is that we're utilizing about half the space there. So if, in fact, the numbers are even larger than we anticipate, we have -- we can expand by twice as much and have in one place, all of the facilities that we're going to need to deal with the number of people who are going to be registered or involved in looking for their loved ones and trying to get information about them.

The numbers now are 180 confirmed dead, 115 of whom have been identified, and 65 unidentified. And the number of missing is 5,097, that we have now registered as a missing person. The reports that were on the news late last night and this morning of knocking at the site, regrettably, are not true. We -- there were no such reports. The recovery effort continues, and the hope is still there that we might be able to save some lives, but the reality is that in the last several days, we haven't found anyone.

And the reports of there being activity of some kind, although there have been several of those, I imagine because there's so much of a feeling and so much of a sense, that we want that to be true, those reports have -- are not true. But in any event, we're going to continue to search for people and look for people at the same time realizing that the losses here are staggering.

There'll be a prayer service next week on September 23, at 3:00 p.m., and the locations and all of the details of it'll be put out later. But that's the -- that's the period of time. And I've asked the -- Governor Pataki and I have asked the religious leaders of our city, who I met with on Friday -- on Thursday, rather -- the religious leaders of our city, and I asked Mayors Koch and Dinkins to be part of a group to help make recommendations as to the best way to do that prayer service.

So, it'll be September 23 at 3:00 p.m., and as the days go by we'll fill in all the details. But it will be an appropriate occasion for everyone to come together and pray in a large and unified way.

Today is also Sunday, which I was very thankful for when I woke up this morning. It's wonderful to get to Sunday and have a beautiful Sunday. And it is an appropriate day for people to reflect on what happened last week. And people are doing it in churches all over the city. There'll be a Mass at St. Patrick's this evening at 5:00.

But life goes on. And the life of the city is going on, and the prediction that I made on the first day is proving to be true. The city is stronger than it was last week at this time. We've had the most horrible attack in the history of the city, and we have emerged a stronger city. More united, more united with ourselves, more united with the rest of America. With tremendous support and assistance we're getting tremendous support and assistance from the state, from the federal government, and from people all over the world, and we're giving them tremendous support and assistance by the spirit that we have, the way in which we rebuilt the emergency center in -- virtually in three days. And it's bigger and more effective than probably ever before.

With the attitude and direction of the Fire Commissioner and the Fire Department in having sustained the worst losses ever, but at the same time, in a short while, promoting people who will step into the shoes of people who are missing and have the Fire Department emerge from that even stronger.

I'm going to a wedding today, which means a great deal to me, because it's a wedding of the sister of Firefighter Garumba (ph), who died three weeks ago in the line of duty, Diane Garumba (ph), and Police Officer Michael Farido (ph). In the course of the last year, Diane lost her grandfather, her father and her brother, and therefore, had no one to walk her down the aisle. And Mrs. Garumba (ph) asked me to do that several weeks ago, at the wake. So at 3:00 this afternoon, I'm going to take time out to go to a wedding.

And I have thought very often in the last couple of days of Mrs. Garumba's (ph) advice at her son's wake, when I found out that she had lost her father, her husband and her son in the course of 12 months. I asked her how she could bear it, and she said because she feels the pain of it, she allows the pain to happen, but then she focuses on the good things that are left in life, like her daughter's wedding. And that's what you have to do, she said. You have to focus on the good things in life and you have to go -- you have to go and participate in the good things. And one of the good things is their daughter's wedding. So I thought about that quite a bit this week.

And then at 5:00 this afternoon, there's a Mass at St. Patrick's. So the life of the city goes on. And I encourage people to go about their lives. One of the best things they can do to show how strong we are and how terrorists can't cower us, is not to be cowered. Go ahead and go about the everyday activities. Go to church if you -- go to church on Sunday. If you go to a park and play with your children, do that. If you like to go out and spend money, I would encourage that. That's always a good thing.

And I encourage people from all over the country who want to help, I have a great way of helping. Come here, and spend money. Go to a restaurant, a play. You might actually have a better chance of getting tickets to "The Producers" now, if you want to come here and see it. But the life of the city goes on, and I think this Sunday symbolizes that.

ZAHN: Well, you've just heard the Mayor of New York City delivering, what is by all definitions an emotional message to New Yorkers and the rest of the world, saying that life goes on, and one of the best ways to prove that is for all of us to go back our -- back to our normal lives and not be cowed by what happened to us last week. He proclaimed that the city is stronger today than it was a week ago at this time, and that because of the strength that the New Yorkers are united with each other in a way they have never been before, and perhaps New Yorkers are united with Americans all over the country in a way they were never united before.

The Mayor updating some statistics for us, today, confirming there are more than 5,000 people missing, 180 people confirmed dead. 115 of those have been identified. The Mayor also shot down reports of any possible contact made between victims trapped in the rubble and emergency rescue workers. He said he wishes those were true, they are not. But made it very clear that this is still being called a rescue operation, and they will continue to work that way until all hope has faded.

He told a -- Bill, I'm sure you heard this poignant story about waking a young woman down the aisle today who lost her grandfather, father and brother in a period of several weeks. He was asked by this young woman's mother if he would accompany her down the aisle today, and sort of said that this is a sign of joy, and that we should all allow ourselves to concentrate, perhaps, on what is good in our life.



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