One Week Later
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GWEN IFILL: Exactly seven days to the minute after America’s tragedy, life at the New York Stock Exchange paused for two minutes of silence. They also paused at the rescue site only blocks away, and at the White House, where President Bush stood with 300 members of his staff on the South Lawn.
SPOKESPERSON: The President of the United States.
GWEN IFILL: At midday, the President appeared with leaders from rescue groups, charities, and the states of New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania to applaud their work.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Last week was a… was a really horrible week for America, but out of our and sadness, we saw the best of America as well. We saw a great country rise up to help. Tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours and tons of food and clothing have all been donated to help rebuild shattered lives. Last evening marked the start of Rosh Hashanah. In Jewish teaching, this holy day is the anniversary of the creation of the world. It is a season of renewal and of hope, and people of every faith all across America embrace that spirit of renewal and hope. Funds in New York and Washington are providing food, clothing and financial help to husbands and wives and sons and daughters who suffer mightily.
GWEN IFILL: Then, urging Americans to donate, the President promoted one particular charity Web site: Libertyunites. Founded by corporate giants like AOL/Time Warner and Microsoft, the site has links to dozens of non-profits, groups that have collected more than $57 million since last Tuesday. Later today in New York, Mayor Rudy Giuliani observed day seven of the tragedy with this grim assessment.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: The chances of recovering any live human beings are very, very small now, given the amount of time and the condition of the site. Those chances are not totally, however, ended or over. So we will still conduct ourselves as a rescue effort, as well as a recovery effort. But we don’t have any substantial am of hope that we can offer to anyone, that we’re going to be able to find anyone alive.
GWEN IFILL: Giuliani said the New York skyline will eventually be whole again, but he wasn’t specific about what that means.
JIM LEHRER: Ray Suarez was at ground zero of the attack in New York today. Here is his report.
RAY SUAREZ: It might help if you think of the crash site as a small city, a heavily armed city with a disaster at its core. There’s the constant noise of people coming and going, doing a bewildering array of jobs, a buzzing hive around the smoking wreck of two of the tallest building on earth and the skeletal hulks of the neighborhood around. Though it has been a week, this is still officially and repeated to reporters again and again a rescue operation. Police say it’s the only way they can keep working.
BILL BEAURY, NY Police Department: It’s a horror to know that they’re in there and it’s very frustrating that we can’t just go to where they are and find them.
MARK DeMARCO, NY Police Department: By right we don’t belong here. We belong in there with our friends, our co-workers. But if we came out, then there would be other people in there.
RAY SUAREZ: Donald Hull is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Los Angeles unit, one of a constellation of such specialist drawn from agencies around the country and now working under the guidance of the New York Police Department.
SPOKESMAN: Make sure that nobody lags behind.
RAY SUAREZ: We caught up with Hull and a California squad of more than 60 men still probing the wreckage for signs of life.
DONALD HULL, FEMA Search and Rescue: What’s happening here is the equipment operators are work closely with the rescue crews. We’ll have to go in a work the heavy equipment to remove the heavy eye beams and whatnot that we can’t move by hand. After the smaller portion of that is removed, we’ll send the hand crews in to search void areas or dig by hand to get a little more area out of that way. We just have to wait and have the debris removed enough so we can look and find them. If they’re there, we can go in and breach a hole in the concrete, make entry into there and do our search from there.
RAY SUAREZ: Today, there were 11 search-and-rescue teams laboring across this vast space. The FEMA teams are urban specialists, trained for work in collapsed and damaged buildings.
DONALD HULL: I was at Oklahoma City with that rescue effort. It doesn’t compare to this one, the magnitude.
RAY SUAREZ: This California FEMA team headed into the lower level shopping mall that once spread out under the World Trade Center site. Other crews are also punching through parts of this enormous underground network: Shops, train stations, parking garages and a police station.
DONALD HULL: It’s my personal feeling that there’s a lot of void areas in the mall area that could be just a stuck door holding somebody in. We don’t know. And that’s our hope, that we can find areas that people are just coincidentally stuck maybe in and not involved in the large collapse.
RAY SUAREZ: Since the fires have died down, components of this building have been cut apart and loaded on to trucks. Steel girders, large slabs of concrete, but no matter how the thousands of tons taken away grow in number, as they have throughout the week, it seems like there’s still an impossible task ahead. How can you carry away all this debris? As of today, some 50,000 tons of debris have been removed, staggering 100 million pounds of metal and concrete moved away. More and more skilled workers and law enforcement are headed to this project along with the heavy tools of the demolition trade, even as the relentless activity of the reviving city moves closer and closer to ground zero day by day.