New York Rescue
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RAY SUAREZ: It was day four of the rescue and recovery effort in Lower Manhattan, and as the day began, rescue workers faced yet one more problem: Rain. The rain flooded some streets, turned dirt and dust into muck, and slowed recovery efforts overall.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI, New York: Obviously, everyone is concerned about the impact of the weather on the relief and recovery efforts. There’s no question that they’re hampered by it. Things have to proceed more carefully, more cautiously. At the same time, they’re going on because there is still a strong hope that we’ll be able to recover people and find people and save them.
RAY SUAREZ: For days, the crews worked in choking dust, dangerous fumes and really terrible heat. And these are all challenges as the hours dragged on and on. Overnight, a tremendous rainstorm moved through the area bringing temperatures 20°s lower than earlier in the week. When you ask the question “what difference did it make on the work itself” you get different answers. Some of the men coming off the site say the cooler temperatures made it easier to work and the rain cut down on the asbestos-laden dust. But there was a downside.
JESUS AGOSTO, Volunteer: It made it worse, it stopped a lot of guys from working. It made the steel slippery. Hazard. You know, it’s just a big mess, man. Now you’re dealing with mud and murk, it’s horrible.
RAY SUAREZ: David Gutierrez is an Upstate New York fire captain.
DAVE GUTIERREZ, Firefighter, Woodstock, NY: Materials, weather, everything is getting passed out in five-gallon pails so it makes the pale pails heavier as the material gets wet.
RAY SUAREZ: City officials said there were even more problems to contend with. Crews looking for survivors had their hopes raised falsely by hoax calls. One woman said she received a cell phone call from underneath the rubble where her husband, supposedly a Port Authority officer, was trapped with nine other people.
BERNARD KERIK, New York Police Commissioner: She caused an extreme amount of panic at the site. I was there, I witnessed it, I saw it, and it was all fake. This is extremely dangerous. We have thousands of people working at that site. They hear something of that nature, they get hopeful; they get aggressive, and they’re working in the hole. The information travels extremely fast, and it could cause someone to be hurt very, very badly.
RAY SUAREZ: New cranes head down to the fallen buildings to aid in the recovery work. When the workers at the crash site can pull apart the rubble more quickly, there are dozens of dump trucks ready to carry away more debris, an army of construction workers ready to get to work on the excavation, and legions of utility workers trying to get this key location reconnected to the city.
MIKE BROCKWAY, Systems Engineer, Verizon: There’s major central office switch here, and it was damaged during the aftermath of the explosion, not the initial blast but due to flooding and water, it flooded the switch. So it took out a lot of facilities. And they’re just desperately trying to reroute that traffic through. It is just a time consuming process.
RAY SUAREZ: The crowds outside the makeshift missing persons unit have thinned in the rain and cold. The wall of the missing puts faces on 4700 still unaccounted for since Tuesday. There are a scant 184 confirmed fatalities. Just the chance of finding survivors sends a steady stream of fresh volunteers forward and has unleashed a flood of affection from ordinary New Yorkers.