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Mayor Talks Of Damage in New York City

Aired September 11, 2001 - 12:26   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have on the phone with us New York's mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

Mr. Mayor, give us your best piece of information, as the situation right now.

RUDY GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: The situation right now is a massive rescue effort that's going right now. We are trying to evacuate thousands and thousands of people. We have as many of our police and fire personnel, as we have down in the southern part of Manhattan evacuating people, trying to save as many lives as possible.

We've been in communication with Governor Pataki, who's gotten the national guard ready, and they're going to come in and relieve us a little bit later in the day. And we have spoken to the White House, and the urban search and rescue teams will come here also to assist us.

But right now, the New York City police and fire, EMS, that are down there trying to evacuate as many people as we possibly can. And we have asked everyone to leave lower Manhattan if they can, on their own, so that it relieves our efforts. This will be going on all day.

It's a horrible, horrible tragedy.

BROW: It is that. Mr. Mayor, can you tell me, is it is a -- are people panicking down there?

GIULIANI: No, people -- I was there right under -- right in a building that got hit by the debris when the first tower collapsed. So I had to evacuate with people. We were trapped in the building for a while. And we were finally able to get out. And we all walked to -- we all walked north.

And people, everything that I have observed, even though it was hundreds, maybe in some cases, thousands of people that were walking on the streets. They were orderly, they were calm. They handled themselves really -- probably better than anybody had any right to expect.

BROWN: And Mr. Mayor, we were told one of the problems, and lord knows there are hundreds of problems, one of the problems was that a number -- a large number of police, fire, EMS personnel have also been injured in this. Can you shed any light that? GIULIANI: I -- I don't even want to contemplate what the number will be. But when the building collapsed, we had a lot of our police officers and firefighters in the building. And I am -- and I know many of them, because I saw some of them go, because I was there, and I am praying for them. I just hope they are able to get out.

BROWN: I think we all --

GIULIANI: The losses to our police department and fire department...

BROWN: Sir, do...

GIULIANI: ... are going to be severe.

BROWN: Do you believe that -- was there another set of explosions that caused the buildings to collapse, or was it the structural damage caused by the planes?

GIULIANI: I don't know. I saw -- I saw the first collapse and heard the second because I was in a building when the second took place. I think that it was structural, but I can't be sure.

BROWN: Can you tell us how many hospitals in the city, and perhaps outside of the city, too. All of them.

GIULIANI: Right now, at last count, we were utilizing over 50. I think it will be over 100 by the -- and that was as of a half hour ago. Utilizing all of the hospitals in New York City, we're utilizing the hospitals in Westchester and Rockland, Nassau County, northern New Jersey.

The main thing we have to urge people to do is to be calm, and evacuate lower Manhattan. And as far as the rest of the city is concerned, just to go about their lives as, you know, as best as possible.

This is a -- I never thought I would see something like this happen. I got there after the first plane hit and before the second. And watching people jump from the top of the World Trade Center, is -- unbelievable sight.

BROWN: Mr. Mayor, my colleague Jeff Greenfield is with us also.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Mayor, in terms of -- you've already said that you want lower Manhattan evacuated, you want everybody else to go about their business.

Are there specific instructions that you want to communicate right now to police, fire, everybody else?

GIULIANI: Police and fire are there, and they're there in large numbers. They are first of all trying to get into the rubble and the debris to save as many people as possible. We also have thousands of police officers in lower Manhattan. And what we want people to do is to leave lower Manhattan, if they can, on their own, to walk...


GIULIANI: I just talked to Dick Grasso who runs the stock exchange, and we have a lot of people there, we have 3,000 people there. We're going to walk them out. We're walking them east and then north, which is essentially the way I walked out. I walked -- I was right below the World Trade Center when it collapsed, and then we walked up to Greenwich Village.

People should walk out of lower Manhattan. Get above Canal Street, for safety reasons, but for a second reason. We need people out of there so we can get thousands of ambulances in and out over the course of the next couple of hours. The fewer people we have there, the more lives we're going to be able to save.

BROWN: Mr. Mayor, are the subways operating?

GIULIANI: The subways are operating outside of Manhattan. Outside of Manhattan, the subways are operating. A couple of delays here and there, but other four boroughs, the subways are operating. In Manhattan there are significant delays. We thought we had the Lexington Avenue open, but it is not. I'm just checking right now. The Lexington Avenue is not open. The A train is working, and people will just have to test and see. The best thing to do right now is to walk. It's the safest and the best thing to do, is to walk to your destination.

Schools have remained open. We've worked with the chancellor to try to make certain that the schools will remain open for as long as they have to, help parents with the kids that would be coming home starting at around 1:00 or 2:00.

BROWN: Mr. Mayor, as you know better than anyone, and certainly New Yorkers know, but people around the country perhaps do not. This was election day here.

What is the status of the election?

GIULIANI: We cancelled it. The governor and I decided about an hour, and hour and a half ago that it made no sense to have an election today. We needed all of those police officers who were at the election sites. And we need to focus on rescue. So, we'll find another day for the eelection. The governor and I made that decision about an hour, an hour and a half ago.

BROWN: Mr. Mayor, you are a very focused guy in moments like this. Is it hard, given the magnitude of what's happened here and around the country, to focus on what you have to do and not just be angry?

GIULIANI: It's very hard, and it's very because I know some of the people that are there. They are personal friends and close friends who were in the building. I haven't been able to find out if they are safe yet.

GREENFIELD: Your emergency command center, what some people have called a bunker, was located, was it not, in one of the World Trade Center buildings?

GIULIANI: It was located close enough to it so that it was affected by it, it's not in one of the buildings. But it was located right in that area, as is city hall, the police department, and all of them had to be evacuated.

So that area of Manhattan, once the -- I was in a building at the time that we were using as command center, and we were trapped in the building for a while, for about 20 minutes, not able to get out, different exits that were overcome with smoke and debris.

BROWN: Mr. Mayor, this is a practical question. Do hospitals need help, do they need -- ?

GIULIANI: Hospitals need all the help they can get. We're getting a great deal of help from the surrounding areas. The governor has mobilized the state in order to make hospitals available to us outside of Manhattan. Any hospital personnel or emergency personnel we want to come in and volunteer, that'd be enormously helpful.

But the best thing for us to do right now, we're trying to coordinate, is to move people out of the city to hospitals in surrounding areas which we're actually doing. So far, though, our hospital system is -- we are very fortunate to have a gigantic system.

BROWN: Do they have enough blood, do they need blood, do they need people to come in and help them out?

GIULIANI: I'm sure they will. We are getting the national guard to relieve our people by early to late this afternoon. They are being mobilized now. And three urban search and rescue teams are going to come to New York City to help us. Then anyone that wants to volunteer from surrounding areas, volunteer fire departments and others, we're working with them now to do that, to try to relieve our fire department.

BROWN: It's a horrific day, Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: There's no possible way to begin to describe it.

BROWN: No, there is not.

GIULIANI: To see what happened there is -- of course it makes you very, very angry. It's almost impossible to describe the level of anger that you have, that somebody or someone would do something like this. And all of the good and wonderful people that were affected by this. There's no reason for this, there's no excuse for this. Something like this is just something that you never thought you would live to see.

BROWN: I couldn't agree more, sir. Thank you for joining us.

GIULIANI: Thank you.

BROWN: New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani, on what was to be an election day, the mayor not up for reelection because of term limits, but the election has been postponed.