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Giuliani Holds Press Conference

Aired September 22, 2001 - 16:52   ET


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: As you see, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani getting set up to hold a press conference. These are daily events in which he updates those people of New York and also the rest of us as to the search and rescue operation.

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: Good afternoon. The -- I spent some time a little while ago at the -- at the site of the recovery effort. And the people there are making a tremendous amount of progress in clearing it away.

And I watched a group of firefighters take out one of their brothers. And it really -- it was -- it was -- it was a very beautiful scene to see how they treated him and how they all stood at attention when he was brought in and then when the priest blessed him.

And it gives you a sense of the dignity and the honor that's being paid to those that have been lost.

And they are doing everything they can to try to recover as many people as possible and they will -- they will continue to do that. And the effort is really very, very sad and very tragic and also very magnificent in the way in which the people who are doing this are carrying it out.

They have cleared away a great deal of the site. There are now about -- as I said, the number is 90,937 tons have been now removed -- 6,255 loads or trucks have been taken out.

There have been a number of situations in which they have been in great danger in doing this recovery effort and we should pause and think for a moment about the risk that these people have taken and really congratulate them and thank them.

Four thousand, three hundred and sixteen families have now registered at the center.

The police commissioner will give you the numbers. The number of -- the missing persons number has remained the same I believe. I remember 6,333.

Some of the numbers have changed with regard to bodies that have been recovered. Although if they've increased they haven't increased significantly but there's been some increase. We check every day on air quality. Air quality is normal. We check every day -- several times a day -- on water quality. Water quality is normal. People have called and asked questions about that and that is all normal.

And people reoccupied more of Battery Park City today and we should have more of it occupied on Monday. And that seems to be going pretty well. It seems to be going as well as I guess we can expect.

People who are reoccupying buildings who have questions about health, clean up or problems like that there's a Department of Health number to call -- 213-1844. That's 213-1844. We'll give you that number and you can post it. Those are for people going back into buildings and they have questions about clean up, they have questions about the quality of the air, they have questions about their health -- 213-1844.

Monday is going to be a regular day in New York City. We expect that traffic is going to be even heavier than it has been over the course of the last week. The last week had both the reaction to the attack and the clean up and two days of Jewish holidays. And so we get back to a very, very normal day. We want it to be a normal day and we want everyone to come into the city.

And everybody in their own way has to find a way to get back to normal. Normal means not being sad and not mourning. Everybody's going to mourn and feel terrible and feel awful and then there are going to be times when people just cry. But they have to able to, as best they can, get back to work, get back into normal life, get back into enjoying their lives and also stop being afraid.

Stop being afraid doesn't mean you can get rid of the emotion -- it means overcoming it. Just going out and doing the things that you normally do. And if you want to know what you can do to help probably the vast majority of the people that want to help cannot come and take away debris. We have the number of people we need for that and they have the skills to do that.

And I'm sure there are a lot of people that would like to enlist for the military but they're probably too young, too old or too whatever and the military is well trained.

Here's what you can do if you feel very emotional and very strongly about this -- you can -- you can go back to your normal way of life. And I think you'd honor the people who are missing and the people who died if you did that -- after all, they died to protect our normal way of life. So you should go back and enjoy it.

And in that connection I think the Met game last night was very effective in convincing a lot of people to go back to their normal way of life because even though they were very solemn and very joyous and the Mets and the Atlanta Braves all hugged each other. And I even got cheered at Shea Stadium -- something that made me very nervous. I thought we had gotten really weird when that happened.

And then all of a sudden Chipper Jones came to the plate and the Met fans booed. So we were back to normal. And I hope he understands he didn't deserve it. He's a really fine man and I got a chance to shake his hand but it does show we're going back to normalcy when Met fans begin booing again.

And we've got to get back -- we've got to get back to normal. And I hope we're going to get there.

Today there was a warm up race -- I guess you call it -- for the New York City Marathon. And 2,500 people showed up to do that. And the New York City Marathon is going to take place on November 4.

All of these things are going to go forward and in honor and in memory of the people that we're -- that we're -- that we're burying and the people that we're finding and the people that are missing we have to go back to that.

So I will -- I will ask the police commissioner to give you the numbers and then I will answer any questions. And then -- and then toward the end when he's finished President Clinton is here. He joined us for the last part of our meeting and he'll probably want to say a few words to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The total dead as of today at 1400 hours is 261. One hundred and ninety-four identified, 67 unidentified. As the mayor mentioned, the missing reports is still at 6,333.

GIULIANI: Rich, Randy? Randy? Commissioner.

Rudy, you want to join me for that? We'll do that.

The prayer service tomorrow, doors will open at Yankee Stadium at 11:00 a.m. And at 1:00 p.m. at the Coney Island and Staten Island stadiums. Seats will not be held after 2:00 p.m. So you can start getting there at 11:00 but you have to be there by 2:00. And a pre- program will begin at 2:30 and the official program will begin at 3:00 p.m.

No bags, backpacks, umbrellas or bottles will be permitted. There are tickets available for the general public. They're free of charge and they're available on a first-come-first-served basis. And if you -- if you want further information about getting a ticket you can call 646-710-6245, that's 646-710-6245.

The people that are participating in the prayer service in addition to religious leaders of the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, including Cardinal O'Conner and -- or Cardinal Egan, I'm sorry, Cardinal Egan, and there will also be several entertainers who will be singing. And the two -- the master and mistress of ceremonies will be James Earl Jones and Oprah Winfrey. Placido Domingo will perform, the Harlem Boys and Girls Choir, Lee Greenwood, Bette Midler and the Amma (ph) Artists Chorus and Orchestra. And we know that it will be a very, very uplifting prayer service.

The prayers are for the people missing, the people who have died and for America and for everyone that survived.

Rudy, do you have anymore details on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe you covered it all, Mayor.

GIULIANI: Mr. President?

Thank you very, very much. I want to thank the President for joining us. He has been here a number of times quietly and spent a great deal of time at the family center comforting people. Has just spent a great deal of time talking to all these people that are working, you know, 12-15 hours. And it's a source of great strength to know that there are people who are supporting the.

And, President Clinton, thank you very much.


GIULIANI: Thank you.

CLINTON: Well, let me say I talked to the mayor this morning. He was kind enough to invite me down today and I got to sit in on a little of his daily briefing. I just want to say first of all how grateful I am to all the people who have been working around the clock for more than a week now.

I have been at the family center three times, counting the both sites. And a lot of the hard work for the people that are working with those families has just begun, as I'm sure you can all imagine. So these people who have come here to work for the city, work for the federal government, many of them who've come from all across America, too, to work with them, they need our support now because a lot of their hard work in dealing with the difficulties and the pain of the families is just now setting in on them.

I also want to say, as someone who had responsibility for handling any number of natural and unnatural tragedies, this one, which was beyond any imagination, has been, in my opinion, brilliantly handled here by the mayor and his team and all the state and federal people who have supported them. And I've very grateful for that.

And I just try to do what the mayor asks, you know. Yesterday he asked us to go shopping, so I went shopping, bought some things and gave it to the folks that are delivering it to the children of the victims. And so tomorrow we're going to Yankee Stadium because that's what we're doing. And I think that's important.

One other thing I would like to say. I've had the opportunity to do a couple of interviews for travel shows encouraging people to come to New York. And next week I think I'll be on at least four commercial airline flights. I think that's right. Anyway, it's a large number. I feel quite confident that the airlines are safe for travel again and that New York is safe for visitors. And anything that all of you in the media can do to get that message out across America I think is important, because we don't want the economic problems to get any worse and we need to keep the confidence of the people up. The ultimate victory here is the maintenance of America's confidence in itself, it's values, and it's future. And I certainly think, Mr. Mayor, you have been critical not only for the people of this city but all over America. My friends call me from every region of the country and say how well you've done and how well the people of New York have done and how proud they are. So I'm glad to be here and I hope I can be of help. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

CLINTON: Thank you very much.

GIULIANI: I'll take one or two questions and then I'm going to walk with the President through the command center and everybody else will answer the questions.

QUESTION: Is this still a recovery mission?

QUESTION: You said you didn't want to talk politics, but there's a report today in the Post that you're deputy mayor has been lobbying city council members to try to get rid of term limits -- term of limits law meaning that you would, of course, be mayor for another term. Do you have any comment on that, sir?

GIULIANI: I'm still not talking about politics.

QUESTION: Is this still a recovery mission?

GIULIANI: Yes. Let me see if I can explain that better. The mission is going to remain the same for some time. In other words, the firefighters and construction workers and police officers that are there are removing debris, carefully, in order to find human beings or human remains. What happens is over a period of time the chance of finding any live human beings diminishes greatly. It's already very, very small. So it isn't -- it isn't as if the mission changes, you know, maybe some time in the -- in a long time from now it changes, but for the foreseeable future the way in which we go about what we're doing will remain exactly the same.

Experts, however, will be able to tell you at some point that this is beyond the time that anyone has every survived. So that's -- I mean, I think that's the way -- the best way to explain it because that's the truth. That's the reality of it. We're -- I was there yesterday and today and I went today to observe what they were doing because I thought we were getting close to the point where we had to describe this. And I saw the way they're doing this operation. And on the slim chance that there is anyone still alive they're conducting the operation so they would be able to save someone if that were the case. Because you do the same things in order to recover the remains of human beings.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea...

QUESTION: How long before we can rebuild?

QUESTION: ... how many people have been able to return to their homes downtown and how many people are still displaced?

GIULIANI: I think about five or 6,000 have returned and I think about 4,000 are still displaced. But I'll check that for you. I think that's right.

QUESTION: ... value of the service tomorrow (OFF-MIKE)

GIULIANI: What's the value of prayer?


GIULIANI: I don't know -- I don't know that I'm capable -- I'm competent or capable of describing the value of prayer. I think the value of the service tomorrow is that people can come together, particularly the families who are hurting and are in great pain. And they can pray and they can know that they're embraced by thousands of other people and literally, hopefully, get the feeling that they're embraced by millions of other people, people that are well known, people that are not well known, people that are hurting with them. And also understand that in this tragedy the one thing that is surely certain is that no one is alone, it affected thousands of people.

I know -- I know some of the people well, they were very close friends of mine, who died. I know some of the people very, very well who are still missing. I know some of the people very well who are still waiting for the answer. And I think we all -- we all share that. So those people who are feeling the terrible tragedy of having lost someone can know that there are literally thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who are going through exactly the same thing they're going through. And they can pray to God for help.

QUESTION: Can you describe for us...


QUESTION: ... basically ...


QUESTION: Can you tell us what's touched you about the people that you've been seeing and spending time with?

CLINTON: Well, among the victims the thing that's moved me most is seeing all those people holding their flyers with the pictures in their hands. "This is my wife." "This is my husband." "This is my wife and daughter." "Here's how old they are, here's how tall they are, here's how much they -- here's what floor they were on." I think, you know, I still -- we drove by the center to come up here today and all those -- you know, that wall is there with all of them up. I still can't bear to look at it.

Among the workers the thing that has touched me the most is the ability of all these firemen and policemen and FEMA workers and others to absorb all this pain and find strength in it. You know, I think what the mayor said about the prayer service -- let me just reinforce that. I think that we -- I think that the people who'll be there believe they're not alone both on earth and otherwise.

And I think the fact that he has arranged to have a substantial of clergy there who are Christian, Jewish and Muslim, will emphasize again the stark difference in what America and New York represent and what this terrorist act and the people behind it represent. And you can see that in everything that every one of these people does. And to those of us who are kind of rooting on the side lines it is overwhelming. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

GIULIANI: Rudy, you want to stay and answer a few more questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About the service?

SAVIDGE: You've been listening to a new conference held by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. These are news conferences that he holds on a daily basis, has done since this tragedy struck. It was noted that he began by referring to the effort going on at the Twin Towers site as a recovery effort. Previously it had been referred to as a search and rescue effort. He later went on to explain that that is just a change in terminology not a change in mission, that they are looking to find those who are victims and also hoping to find any survivors if they still exist. He also said the chances of that are very slim.

He went a long way trying to urge New Yorkers here to stress and get back to their lives as normal as possible. He said that is something that the victims would want. He said if you want to do something here, stop being afraid, get back to your normal way of life. We don't need any more volunteers. They need people to get back to trying to live the way they did before.

In a lighter note he pointed out that he knew that things were not normal last night when he went to Shea Stadium for the Mets-Braves game and he said that the crowd actually cheered him when he went out on the field. Of course, the mayor here is known to be a diehard Yankee's fan. He did know that when the Braves did come up to the bat that there was a booing that went around and he said that it did indicate that things were starting to go back to normal somewhat.

He was joined by former President Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton complimented the mayor for the service that he has done. And the President said that he was most deeply touched by the victims families, especially those that hold those flyers that we have all seen, and said that he was also very deeply touched by the heroism and the ongoing work at the site.



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