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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Officials Speak About Oklahoma Bridge Collapse

Aired May 28, 2002 - 11:02   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.
KRIS OSBORN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're going to take you live to a press conference taking place in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma. Officials are speaking, of course, about the collapse of I-40 bridge -- let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

LT. CHRIS WEST, OKLAHOMA HIGHWAY PATROL: ... to five vehicles and six victims. That's a grand total from, day one, we've recovered eight vehicles and nine victims.

Michelann Ooten, with the Civil Emergency Management, is also going to have some information about the family assistance center. And I think she wants to make another comment.

One of the things that I want to let everybody know is there's been some confusion on one of the detour's alternate routes.

The Department of Public Safety has a road condition hot line, and we're using it for detours and alternate routes. The phone number is 405-425-2385, and when the recorder picks up, if you'll press one, it will go immediately to road conditions. And it's going to have all the alternate routes listed.

Again, we did have additional recoveries made last night. The vehicles were a semi and a Chevy pickup. The semi -- I'll go ahead and let you know -- the semi was unoccupied. The survivor that was recognized yesterday, Rodney Tidwell, it was his semi that we recovered. And then there was a Chevy pickup, and it was occupied twice.

I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to Michelann. She's got a few comments to make.

MICHELANN OOTEN, OKLAHOMA DEPT. OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Michelann Ooten, with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. It's Michelann, M-I-C-H-E-L-A-N-N, all one word; O-O-T-E-N is the last name.

I'm going to talk to you about the family assistance center that's set up over at Webbers Falls civic building. I wanted to let you know that the number is still 918-464-2602. That's the number people can call if they have questions and think possibly their loved ones or someone they know might have been involved in the accident. They are continuing to take names over there, and they're in contact with the state medical examiner's office up in Tulsa. That is the place where the victims are continuing to be processed for identification.

I want to urge you that we do consider the family assistance center a private location for those family members. We need to respect their needs at this time. We hope that you all will understand that we certainly need to keep back from that area so that these people can have their time to take care of their needs at this moment.

Additionally, I wanted to bring to your attention that we have still -- we still have at the site more than two dozen agencies and departments from around Oklahoma, as well as from the federal level. They're continuing to assist in this recovery effort. I wanted to list some of those for you. I think they deserve some accolades.

We know they're working hard down there in a very difficult, difficult job that's before them. At the local level, we have emergency managers from Muskogee County, Washington County, the city of Grove, McIntosh County, LeFlore County, and the city of Keota.

From the local fire department, those I know of include: Muskogee, Sallisaw, Tulsa, Muldrow, and Port Smith (ph). Sheriff's department -- certainly the Muskogee County Sheriff's office is out here helping out. Police departments from Webbers Falls, Warren (ph), Muskogee, Tulsa.

At the state level, in addition to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, we have officials from the Department of Transportation, certainly the Highway Patrol, and others with the Department of Public Safety still here. Department of Environmental Quality is here helping out, as well as certainly the medical examiner's office, and the Wildlife Department is on hand as well.

At the federal level, we have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that remains here; certainly, the National Transportation Safety Board remains on site conducting their investigation, and the U.S. Coast Guard is here as well.

I just wanted to make sure you all were aware of those agencies. There may be more working.

In addition to that, the disaster relief agencies remain on hand to provide support: Salvation Army, as well as the American Red Cross. You know, a lot of the churches in nearby Webbers Falls, as well as Gore are helping out at this time. Some of those at the family assistance center; some of those are also at the site helping to provide assistance and counseling to these recovery workers.

OSBORN: You have been listening live to an ongoing press conference in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, of course the scene of the collapse of the I-40 bridge. Various officials there talking about the ongoing recovery efforts and the numerous agencies there to assist both family members and continue the search for vehicles, including a recent find of a Chevy pickup and several cars. In total, there are nine victims and eight vehicles that have been recovered.

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