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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Texas Emergency Coordinator Holds Press Conference

Aired February 2, 2003 - 18:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

COOPER: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Very shortly we are going to be going to a press conference that's going to be held in the town of Hemphill, Texas where we're going to hear from a local official about the latest in trying to collect a lot of this debris. In fact, we're just going to go there right now to Hemphill, Texas.
BILLY TED SMITH, EMERGENCY COORDINATOR: People that are bringing stuff to us. We ask you please do not do that because this -- when you touch this material it can be hazardous. We've had some people with burns and respiratory distress that have had to go the hospital yesterday with it, and so we are continuing to ask everybody to please stay away from any debris that they may find. And, once again, we appreciate everybody's cooperation and hopefully we'll have a better day tomorrow.

QUESTION: Can you give us a wrap of what happened today? What were you able to -- how many people were out?

SMITH: Today, we had over 200 volunteers as well as paid personnel on the scene, which included state, local, and county responders. We covered probably a little over a mile territory and -

QUESTION: Where is this territory?

SMITH: It is here in Sabine County. It is probably a little bit south of here.

QUESTION: Are they doing a line walk of ...

SMITH: Yes. They put them in grids and we -- each place that we go to we'll get a coordinate reading on it and bring it back to the incident command unit here and it's plotted on the map.

QUESTION: Is it a wooded area or is it a mixed area?

SMITH: It's a very wooded area with a lot of underbrush and briars and it's a hilly area also.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) exactly how many pieces?

QUESTION: Did you mean a square mile?

SMITH: Yes, well it's almost a square mile.

QUESTION: One square mile and that took the day? SMITH: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you give us a specific location of street or road intersections?

SMITH: We can't give out that information of what area we did at this point.

QUESTION: How much in that area do you have to go now? I mean at what -- is there a larger yet to cover?

SMITH: Yes. We've still got a real large area to cover.

QUESTION: But it's contiguous to that?

SMITH: Right.

QUESTION: And I understand among the things that have been found is a large metal ring, a section of the tile board. Can you describe some of what you're seeing and is that in this particular area?

SMITH: The debris that we're seeing ranges from metal to insulation and just burnt debris.

QUESTION: Is some of it recognizable as like electronic components?

SMITH: They have had some that was recognizable.

QUESTION: Right.

SMITH: And it would be stuff like electric components that you would use, you know, in the panels and so forth.

QUESTION: Any kind of harnesses or anything that has to do with the area where the crew compartment? There have been harness covers.

SMITH: We haven't located anything like that yet.

QUESTION: And any more human remains recovered today?

SMITH: You will have to go talk to NASA about that.

QUESTION: Can you just say yes?

QUESTION: NASA said it found the remains of all of the seven astronauts. They have just announced that. What can you tell us to develop that story in this area here?

SMITH: I will again say that you will have to talk with NASA about that.

QUESTION: Well, without being specific can you just say were more found today, not telling us what, where, or when, just (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: All I can tell you tonight is that we have found more debris from the shuttle.

QUESTION: Did you not find any human remains today at all?

SMITH: Again, I'll have to defer that to NASA and the FBI.

QUESTION: What about the pieces that you found? Can you tell us how many?

SMITH: How many pieces from the shuttle?

QUESTION: Yes.

SMITH: Probably about 10 or 12.

QUESTION: Do you have about -- do you still have more than 240...

SMITH: Square miles?

QUESTION: ... square miles to search?

SMITH: We'll probably have at least 200 more square miles.

QUESTION: So do you have any -- I mean, it's hard to say now, but any rough idea of just how long you may be committing these resources to the field?

SMITH: We really haven't placed a timetable on it.

QUESTION: Are you all hearing anything from federal or state authorities about when they're going to come in and start picking this stuff up? Or how they're going to coordinate with you to try to...

SMITH: They will -- the EPA...

QUESTION: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: ... will be the one that will come in and pick up the debris.

QUESTION: Have they given you a timetable?

SMITH: They have not given us a timetable on that yet. We -- this is a very large area, and it requires a lot of specialized equipment and specialized personnel to do this.

QUESTION: So we're talking about a matter of weeks. It's not months that you guys are going to be out here doing this, it sounds like.

SMITH: I've been told that we have no timetable on it at this point.

QUESTION: Given how well you've done today, I mean, can you project forward that it could be weeks, or can you put -- just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- yes. SMITH: It's really hard to say. I can say, you know, I would say that it's at least a week or two.

QUESTION: Can you talk about...

QUESTION: What's the interest in this one square mile area? Why did you start there today? What's there that got your attention?

SMITH: It -- we -- it was actually a continuation from yesterday. We had some more area that we wanted to look at at that point.

QUESTION: How much did you cover yesterday, about a similar area, or was it smaller?

SMITH: I think it was a little more yesterday, probably one and a half square miles, something like that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Can you talk about the volunteers who have come in? I was speaking to someone who came from as far away as two or three hours away. Who's making -- who are these people who are coming in who are not some of the officials? But give us a sense of who these people are who are coming to work in your county.

SMITH: OK, we have, you know, people from the FBI, NASA, the Department of Defense, Secret Service -- I might have said FBI. And then we have, you know, the people from the state agencies, Department of Public Safety, the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

QUESTION: Well, what about nonofficial volunteers...

SMITH: Nonofficials, we have...

QUESTION: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SMITH: ... like, the volunteer fire departments that bring their volunteers in to give us assistance. And we've had them from, you know, all over the place.

QUESTION: What about area volunteers...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... just people that live in the community?

SMITH: We have many of those volunteers assisting us...

QUESTION: Approximately how many?

SMITH: Oh, we probably have 100 that have offered to volunteer. And we use these volunteers when we can.

QUESTION: Billy, can you say anything about reports that shuttle pieces have been found in Louisiana?

SMITH: Yes, we've had reports that some have been found in Vernon Parish in Louisiana, and that there had been some debris there in that area, and some around the Vernon Lake area.

QUESTION: What about on Toledo Bend, what did you guys discover with the special...

SMITH: OK, we sent our...

QUESTION: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: ... Emergency Corps boat at that location, and the cameras didn't show anything because it was a shallow area in the lake where the coordinates were given to us by the fisherman that happened to be in that area. And so we found nothing there.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: We -- I don't know if we'll go back tomorrow. It may be a day or two before we get back to the lake area.

QUESTION: Are people talking about the fact that there may be large parts of the wreckage that will never be found, things that have sunk deep into the mud or have gone into the reservoir? And what are people talking about officially about what that means in terms of understanding what happened?

SMITH: Well, we think that all large pieces will eventually be located. We are finding that the major large debris that we're -- that come from there was in the Nacogdoches area, because they've had some real large pieces of the shuttle there.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SMITH: So...

QUESTION: Is there going to be any more -- is there any more of the operation at the high school gym still, and is that going to impact school tomorrow, or will schools be open?

SMITH: No, schools will -- should be continuing as normal.

QUESTION: Is there any more, is there (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going on at the high school gym?

SMITH: Not that I know of.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... team left the area, are they coming back? They were here this morning.

SMITH: No, the FBI is here right now.

QUESTION: OK. Including their emergency response team? SMITH: Their emergency response team as well as the NASA and some astronauts.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... activity at the high school (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: No, there was never a morgue set up anywhere (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... for tomorrow?

SMITH: I'm not sure. We've had a number of people from NASA, and they sent some astronauts down with them.

QUESTION: Have some items that were -- have been discovered today, have those been -- I mean, much of it is being left. But if some items been recovered and transferred over to Lufkin today?

SMITH: None of the debris has been moved today.

QUESTION: So nothing has been picked up.

SMITH: Nothing has been picked up. It's all been tagged and identified and marked.

QUESTION: And it's my understanding that the only things that are being moved are human remains, and those -- some have been moved up in other counties today, but not here.

SMITH: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: But nothing has been moved here.

SMITH: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the significance of this very large cylinder piece that was found not too far from here? Is that the largest piece that was found in Sabine County? Have the officials particularly -- are they particularly...

SMITH: Actually, the, the...

QUESTION: ... interested in that?

SMITH: ... piece that you're talking about was located in San Augustine County, which was right at the county line. And it was a spheroid-type tank that had a liquid in it.

QUESTION: Anything -- are you going to go back into Prussom (ph) Bay, the Indian Mounds area, are you going to go over there (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: Oh, yes, we'll be back into the Indian Mounds area.

QUESTION: Have there been any reports of large objects over there?

SMITH: We haven't found any more reports today on it.

QUESTION: How large is your department? How many men? How many people (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: In -- that we're working today?

QUESTION: No, in your county, in your county department, how many?

SMITH: Well, see, my county covers three counties, and it's approximately 2,000 square miles, and as far as emergency management, we have six people in it.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the water supplies? Kids return to school tomorrow.

SMITH: Everything is -- according to TCEQ and APA, that the information we get from them, says everything is fine.

QUESTION: Have they tested the water?

SMITH: Yes, they've been testing water at all the schools in the county.

QUESTION: Is NASA guiding you in this search or telling you from maps what you should prioritize and where you should search first?

SMITH: It's really a joint effort. They are assisting us, we're assisting them.

QUESTION: And what do they give you assistance with? What are -- are they -- do they have some maps and stuff (UNINTELLIGIBLE) places to go?

SMITH: Well, yes, we've got maps in there, and we really come up with our own conclusion of which way it was by using the National Weather Service's radar plume model that they have.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about some of the waterways here? Have you gone into them? And -- I'm sorry if you've already covered this. But have you gone into them? Have you investigated the possibility as how much debris may be in there?

SMITH: Well, we had one of the Emergency Corps boats in the water today with underwater camera and sonar, and they didn't come up with anything today.

QUESTION: Well, looking at that map and coming up with your own idea of the debris trail, can -- I mean, right now, I know this is just an educated guess, or a -- of what you may find. But can you give kind of an area that we're talking about, how many miles wide, how many miles long?

SMITH: It is the entire length of Sabine County.

QUESTION: About how wide a corridor?

QUESTION: And how difficult?

SMITH: It's -- well, I would say it's probably in the neighborhood of around 70 miles, 50 to 70 miles by 30 miles.

QUESTION: Do you know anything about these toxins that are making people sick? Do you know what these chemicals are?

SMITH: Well, the ones -- the chemicals that they're using is hydrazine, and it's a -- it's one of the chemicals they use in their rocket systems. And it is considered toxic, and it's hazardous if you breathe it or if you get it on your hands or ingest it.

QUESTION: Has some of that dissipated...

SMITH: Oh, yes.

QUESTION: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- And so, I mean, yesterday I was around some pieces that you could actually smell a very strong chemical smell. Has that dissipated, primarily?

SMITH: Well, because of the air inversion, it has caused a lot of the chemicals to stay towards the ground.

QUESTION: So you all are still smelling some of that today?

SMITH: Yes, it's possible that you could still. But most of it with the temperature it was today, you know, the majority of it's going to be...

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SMITH: ... dissipated.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the people who are in the hospital? What has happened to them?

SMITH: You'll end up with coughing and respiratory distress, and then if you get it on your person, it will burn you.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: And then were they treated and released yesterday?

SMITH: I understand that they were...

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was anybody today?

SMITH: ... I haven't -- I -- we have not heard of anyone today. QUESTION: All right. How many, how many...

QUESTION: Do you plan on going back into the water?

SMITH: We will at some point.

QUESTION: What needs to happen...

QUESTION: Has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) found anything in the water?

QUESTION: ... to make more progress more quickly?

SMITH: More manpower. But we're going to be trying to deal with that tomorrow, because we're -- it looks like we're probably going to get that request that we need for more manpower.

QUESTION: Where are they coming from, do you know?

SMITH: From all over Texas.

QUESTION: Right. I know they were talking in San Augustine County today that they had been told that people may come from Fort Polk.

SMITH: Oh, yes, yes.

QUESTION: They've already got some people from Barksdale. Have you guys gotten Barksdale or Fort Polk or been told...

SMITH: We have got a...

QUESTION: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: ... representative from the Air Force here.

QUESTION: Are you accepting volunteers? One man I spoke with tried to volunteer today, and he said he was turned away.

SMITH: Well, it depends on -- we look at what their skills are, because we can't use just anyone on, you know, on the scene.

QUESTION: Like, what kind of skills do you need to look in the woods to find something?

SMITH: One thing would be they would have to be real physical in order to do it.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this extra manpower, is this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) armed forces, guards, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SMITH: Whatever they can get us, you know, we'll use. But they promised to get us some more.

QUESTION: Did they tell you specifically who's coming, what units?

SMITH: No, no. They'll be doing that in their meetings.

QUESTION: Billy, how big of a place does GPS have in the search?

SMITH: Do what?

QUESTION: How big of a place does GPS, global positioning satellite, have in this search?

SMITH: Oh, it's very -- we use it extensively in it, because we -- every site that we go to, we use it -- we take the GPS with us and get the coordinates there.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what will happen tonight? You said that this was a 24/7...

COOPER: You've been listening to a press conference, a man by the name of Billy Ted Smith, the emergency coordinator in the town of Hemphill, Texas. Just listening to that, you think about the randomness of fate. I think 48 hours ago, most Americans probably hadn't even heard of Hemphill, Texas. In the last 36 hours ago, we have heard that name, that town spoken often.

Just yesterday we saw some video of some remains of one of the Columbia astronauts, we believe one of the Columbia astronauts, recovered around Hemphill, loaded into a hearse. First indication we got. We now have confirmation from Bob Cabana just about an hour, hour and a half ago, the director of flight crew operations at NASA. He said, "We have found remains of all seven astronauts."

Those remains, of course, will be transferred to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where they will be analyzed by investigators, and obviously at some point returned to the families.

We're going to check in with Daryn Kagan, who is standing by, as she has been all along, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Daryn, as you listen to that press conference, you just get a sense of the enormity of the search ahead of these officials.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, two very important press conferences back to back there, Anderson. And the first one, of course, coming from NASA out of Houston. And I think I took away the same thing you did, what a lot of people did. Certainly not the most scientifically significant thing out of that news conference, but when you heard almost in passing that NASA has -- believes it in fact has recovered the remains of all the astronauts, it really did make you pause and think about the enormity of the event.

Also, as you mentioned, the enormity of the task of gathering all the debris. To put this back together as much as possible, to figure out what went wrong, some of that happening in Hemphill, Texas, also in Nacogdoches County, Texas, another place that a lot of people hadn't heard of before this story began.

Our Ed Lavandera has been spending time there, and he has the latest from Nacogdoches -- Ed. ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.

Well, officials here have been spending most of the day working, as you heard toward the end of that briefing, talking about using GPS technology to start mapping and tracking where all of the debris has fallen across east Texas and parts of Louisiana as well.

Officials here on the ground have initially put out an initial map showing just how much of the area surrounding Nacogdoches, this county, has -- where debris has been found so far, and the colors over this map show that virtually the entire debris is being found all over this county.

That's about 12,000 pieces of debris that have been found in Nacogdoches County alone. That does not take into consideration all of the other pieces that have been found around here. And of course now the growing concern is that officials here wait to figure out what exactly they need to be doing with all of this equipment. They're starting to run out of manpower.

Officials here say that there are many pieces of debris. They're getting about 25 new calls in to the command center here about new pieces of debris being discovered across the county, and those pieces of debris, they just don't have enough manpower to get people out to those pieces at this point.

So they're worried that as time goes by that a lot of these pieces will be unprotected until they can get some sort of direction as to what exactly they need to be doing.

And across the county, you continue to see it around Nacogdoches as well today, many people fanning out with cameras and video cameras to chronicle everything that they've been finding in this rugged terrain around Nacogdoches as well.

And for many people, they say it's an emotional experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: It doesn't impact you like it does when you come and actually see a piece. And you know that those people were there, they were in space, they touched part of this, they were part of this. And now it's just kind of scattered, you know, all up and down the country. And it's moving, and then again, it's -- it makes me want to pray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Officials here also say that they have found a portion of the crew cabin, a piece of a harness, and also a piece of a tire as well, and they also do confirm that there have been confirmation of three human remains found in the Nacogdoches area as well -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Ed Lavandera from Nacogdoches, thank you very much. Interesting information there. The good news being that people are definitely heeding the loss of warnings about not touching or going anywhere near the material they might find, but as you said, a lack of manpower, people power, in gathering that.

Of course, the ultimate aim is to get it together and to get it to the site where the investigation command center will be, actually has already begun, and that is Barksdale Air Force Base, and that's where we find our Patty Davis tonight. Patty, hello.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, we have just heard from NASA officials here at Barksdale Air Force Base that human remain have in fact, some of them, arrived here.

Now, at the base by air. We saw some Black Hawk helicopters coming in a little while ago, and that very well could have been how they got here.

Now, no debris here at this point. But investigators, pathologists, will be very carefully examining the remains, the debris to look, perhaps for any clues to the cause of this accident.

Now, NASA has made this its accident headquarters, its command post, so to say, here at the base, and that is because, at least for debris collection, they have very large hangars. Those hangars house B-52 bombers normally, and those B-52 bombers have been deployed. They were deployed last fall, forward deployed. This base will not say where they went.

Now, FEMA, the NTSB, the FBI, also all local officials are assisting NASA in collection of those human remains, that debris as well. The team, NASA says, reports to them, twice a day it's getting reports.

Now, also numerous engineers poring over the data that streamed in from the shuttle before the accident, also meeting tomorrow here at the base, an independent investigation group. That is led by a former, a retired admiral, Harold Gehman.

Now, he led the investigation into the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. "Cole." Also involved in that independent investigation, other government agencies, including the military, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Transportation, looking in a separate investigation as to the cause -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Patty, at the risk of sounding there's a morbid fascination here with the human remains, did officials there talk about exactly how they'll be handled? I'm thinking there's a number of priorities here. Obviously one, to identify, two, to get any clues about what happened on board the shuttle "Columbia," but also to get those remains to the families as soon as possible, who obviously are in a case of deep mourning right now.

DAVIS: Right. Yes, we haven't heard any details as to how that will be handled. We do know that they were going to have to bring in some refrigeration facilities, because there aren't any on the base. So presumably that's been done, if these remains are here at this point, Daryn, but that's all we know. We hope to hear more from Admiral Gehman soon on that issue.

KAGAN: Patty Davis at Barksdale Air Force Base, the command center for this investigation. Patty, thank you very much.

And Anderson, I'm going to go ahead and toss it back to you. I can really imagine viewers sitting at home thinking, you know, Why are they so hung up on the human remains? I think you have to be careful going on the gruesome side here, but it also -- it brings the people side and the people aspect of this story, which is, of course, what brings us here. It's about so much more than just the nuts and bolts of sending a machine up into space.

COOPER: It is, Daryn, it's very easy to get caught up in the bigger story, the investigation, the technical aspects, and let's not forget the seven people whose lives were lost, the countless families whose lives have been further changed.

KAGAN: Absolutely.

COOPER: Daryn Kagan in...

KAGAN: And when we ask questions -- I was just going to say that we -- and, yes, I know you did this too, but when we ask questions like that, it is with, it is with intended, at least, respect for the families and, as you said, for the seven astronauts who gave their lives on this mission.

COOPER: All right. Thanks very much, Daryn, standing by at Kennedy Space Center. We'll come back to you shortly.

We're going to go to a quick break and come back to another report about more searching continuing. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Sabine County, Texas, another one of those names, another county we hadn't heard of before. It's a county right on the state line with Louisiana. It is where some of the remains of the Columbia seven have been found and located, as well as a lot of debris. A lot of debris made impact in that county, including large pieces that reportedly splashed into Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Stephen Dean of our affiliate KPRC joins us now from Sabine County with an update on the search -- Stephen.

STEPHEN DEAN, KPRC CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening.

In this town of Nacogdoches, there are more than 1,200 fields or areas that are roped off, or they are contained in some way, usually yellow tape. You can see them all up and down the roads here.

The latest, behind me, getting some of the attention of those global positioning systems that you've been talking about. One of these Army personnel has it in his hand, and they have to actually catalog each piece of the shuttle that came down in this parking lot in the middle of downtown Nacogdoches. Search teams are getting 125 calls an hour from areas that are more rural.

Of course, the reason they found this one and roped it off so quickly, because it's in the center of downtown, but 125 calls an hour, they just cannot keep up with it in this area.

The terrain is tough, and locals are sometimes having to lead the way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED CORLEY, HEARD SHUTTLE COMING DOWN: I was just fishing right here when it come through.

DEAN (voice-over): This math teacher and his son are among the locals keeping searchers busy on the day after parts of Columbia fell at their favorite fishing spot.

CORLEY: Must have been 25 or 30, just boom-boom-boom, boom, boom-boom-boom-boom.

DEAN: So Ed Corley led this Louisiana search party back to the exact spot where he heard shuttle parts snapping trees and plowing into the ground.

CORLEY: Not knowing what it was, I decided the best thing for us to do was get out of here.

DEAN: But a couple of hundred yards away, searchers say, Toledo Bend Reservoir could hold hundreds of pieces of the shuttle. All of the boat ramps on the Texas side of the water are roped off. Fishing boats set for a tournament today were turned away so search teams could have room to work.

QUESTION: This is not something that we're going to be able to do in just a day or two. It's going to take a while to do all of this.

DEAN (on camera): Locals say this is the Buck Creek area of the reservoir, where a car-sized piece of the shuttle is submerged. Smaller pieces are scattered in the water north of this same spot. But divers are being organized, and heavy equipment is going to be needed to lift those pieces out of the water.

So for now, search teams are focusing nearby here on land, on things they can see.

(voice-over): A chopper is mapping out some debris on land and in the water. Many of the pieces are toxic. This area gets its drinking water from the reservoir, but the state says it is still safe. But for many around here, it's tough to truly feel safe.

QUESTION: What if it had hit right beside us, you know? And what if we had found it and it was toxic? And, you know, we could be dead right now, I mean... (END VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: The gravity of this sinking in for a lot of people who live in this area tonight, as more and more search teams just line the highways and go down rural roads and do their work.

Now, as for the reservoir, they should know in the morning when the divers may be ready or the heavy equipment will be in place to go and actually look under water. But as for here on land in Nacogdoches, in this area, they're actually running out of the yellow tape and the little flags to mark all of the pieces of debris they have found.

COOPER: You know, Stephen, just in listening to your report, I'm reminded of something a man, Billy Ted Smith, in Hemphill, Texas, who's an emergency coordinator, told us in a press conference just a short while ago. He said that in -- around Hemphill, they had about 200 volunteers. And it just makes me think about these people who don't know the -- any of the seven Columbia astronauts personally, yet feel motivated enough to come out, volunteer their time, and search this area.

The volunteers, the people you talk to searching, what do they say? Why do they say they came out? Why are they doing this?

DEAN: A lot of them just because it is consuming the entire community. They want to be a part of it. They know this is history. They know this is something that is touching all of the world. And others, they just feel completely compelled, just overwhelmed, this helpless feeling, like, I really wish I could do something.

And so they're pitching in. Unfortunately, as we heard a little bit earlier, some of them are being turned away because a lot of this work that needs to be done, especially when they're dealing with human remains, they can't just use anybody, they have to use military personnel, they have to use federal agents. And so they have to keep the volunteers at a distance.

Frustration on top of sadness.

COOPER: Stephen Dean of KPRC, appreciate it. I know it's been a long day for you. Appreciate you joining us tonight with your report. Thanks very much, Stephen.

DEAN: Thanks.

COOPER: Something Stephen just mentioned, talking about these, retrieving the Columbia seven, somebody reminded me of something Bob Cabana, the director of flight crew operations at NASA, said to us in this press conference just about an hour ago. He said, "We are treating the remains with great respect. We are taking care of our fellow crewmates."

I think those people who were not even fellow crewmates of the Columbia seven would feel -- would certainly understand that and share a lot of that sentiment. No doubt that is motivating a lot of people to come out to try to help in the search for the debris and for the remains.

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