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America's New War: New York Mayor Giuliani Press Conference

Aired September 28, 2001 - 10:29   ET



MYR. RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: ... and one was in Orange County. And I was really very, very much impressed and strengthened by the fact that the turnouts in these towns were thousands of people that were showing up to pay their respects to the families of the firefighters that were lost and for whom they were having wakes last night.

And I want to thank the people in Rockland County and the people in Orange County and the people in Suffolk County and Nassau County who are all doing that. They're showing up in very, very large numbers, and it was very comforting for the families to be able to see thousands of people showing up out of respect for their loved ones. And it demonstrated in a way that words actually can't convey the fact that their loved ones were in fact heroes and patriots. And I want to thank them very much.

We now have 4,620 people that are registered as missing persons at the family center, and we have 5,960 with the police department. And the police department list comes from many different sources, and they keep going over it to see if there are duplicates or possibly names that were given in two different forms, and then when you reconcile them you realize it's the same person. The number at the family center is, in the sense that it does reflect an individual person, is a more accurate number. And ultimately to assess the amount of loss here, it probably lies somewhere between those two numbers.

1,131 families came for services yesterday at the family center. I say that to you to give you a sense of the magnitude of the task that they're performing at the center. They had filings for 305 death certificates yesterday, and the total so far are 565 applications for death certificates, and in some cases they've already received them. And that process will continue, and I should clarify the following because this was confusing to some people.

Although we did a process of different alphabetical orders for the first three days -- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday -- starting tomorrow, it's open to anyone. Some people thought that the process ended today. The reality is it's just begun, and tomorrow there are no suggestions with regard to alphabetical order. Anybody that feels they want to or are ready to apply for a death certificate, they can come in tomorrow. It will be open tomorrow. It will be open Sunday. It will open Monday and there will be volunteer lawyers there to help with the process, and it can be done over the weekend, if that's easier for people who are working or outside the city.

We enforced the no-single-occupancy vehicle below the entrances from 63rd Street down, and I had an opportunity to go out and look at it myself, and it seemed to me that given all the worries and problems about it, it worked well. Traffic was light. It moved. It moved better today than it did on Tuesday and Wednesday, which were the last two days you could compare it to. And obviously for some people, there will be confusion about it, but it appeared as if it had a significant impact on traffic on Queens Boulevard and some other places -- a positive impact.

So it will continue to apply, and we do believe from the numbers we can see from the public transportation that people are listening and they're using public transportation, which may also have had a bearing on why it worked.

Cameras -- once again, cameras are not authorized inside. Only cameras that are authorized are allowed inside. On the outside of the zone, we have no right to stop anyone from taking a picture. There are some police officers and national guardsmen who I think don't understand that, so I'll repeat it again, because sometimes you can hear it over television or the radio, and it clarifies it. Cameras, except authorized ones, are not allowed inside the hot zone -- the restricted area. You have to have an authorization to have it. If you don't have an authorization, the camera will be taken from you by the police or the National Guard.

If you are beyond the restricted area and you have a camera, we have no legal right to take that camera from you. By "we," I mean the police do not, the National Guard do not. I guess we have the right as human beings, if you're trying to take a picture of a family member grieving or something like that, to say to you we think that really is rather despicable conduct, but we don't have the right to take it from you. And the police and the national guardsmen should understand that.

I think we've covered most of it. There is some concern about isolated readings with regard to asbestos and other substances. I count one, two, three, four, five separate testing groups that test the air there all the time. DEP, the EPA, the Coast Guard, the Board of Education who has done it for the schools, and the Battery Park City. And although they occasionally will have an isolated reading with an unacceptable level of asbestos because a truck may have gone by or something like that, very occasional and very isolated, the air quality is safe and acceptable. And I know there are people that are concerned about it and people that are worried about it, but that's just the reality.

Syverson (ph) High School is going to open on the 9th, and we are going today to open the Holland Tunnel westbound, at 3 p.m. today, cars that are going to New Jersey will be allowed to go through the Holland Tunnel westbound from Watson-Verrick (ph) Street and buses will have access to New Jersey coming down the Westside Highway. So that should ease some of the burdens in getting out of Manhattan today. That's at 3:00 o'clock. And that will remain that way for the foreseeable future that you'll be allowed to leave. We will not open it eastbound, however, at least not for the foreseeable future.

Yes, I also am reminded that I should tell everyone that there's been a re-estimate by the people doing the removal now that they've had, you know, experience of over two weeks of doing it, that the amount of time that they will need to remove and clear the site will range anywhere from nine months to one year because of the complexity that they believe they're going to face, particularly once they remove the surface structures and debris which will take still a very, very long period of time, the complexity that they are going to face in removing the debris and the structures that have been driven into the ground, which is something that is going to make the removal effort even more difficult.

We will, however, over a period of time, be able to narrow the area more as we get to that phase. But for people who live in the area, work in the area, they're looking at anywhere from nine months to one year in order to do the removal.

We've so far removed 133,024 tons; we've had 8,977 truck loads, And the issue with regard to some of the diverted steel, I'll have the police commissioner describe that and what's been done about that, including the investigation that's been done in order to try to stop people from doing that.

The count -- I think I gave that before -- but it's 306 bodies that have now been recovered. And, again, I would urge people, if they have the opportunity, to go to some of the funerals and memorial services that are taking place. Tomorrow, on Saturday, there are 16 of them at least in the metropolitan area, and I'm sure that's just a number we've been able to figure out. So if you can go, it really does help the family members who are going through this.

And I think I've covered most everything. If you have some questions for me, I'll take them, and I'll leave in about four or five minutes because I have to go to a memorial service.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The mayor confirming that it may take upwards to a year to clean up World Trade Center site.




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