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NYC anthrax warning system in place

  |   Oct. 5, 2001 at 4:12 AM
NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, while on a tour of "Ground Zero" of the World Trade Center attacks with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Thursday night stopped to tell reporters he had talked with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson by telephone concerning a 63-year old Florida man came down with a case of anthrax.

"It appears to be an isolated case," the mayor said. "There is no evidence at this point, of any anthrax in New York City or this area. We've been in constant surveillance. We've gotten a lot of calls about this. The people in New York and elsewhere throughout the country should not be concerned about it. We continue to monitor hospitals and numerous 911 calls. "

Dr. Neil Cohen, New York City Health Commissioner, said city hospitals were on the alert for any possible anthrax cases. "All the early warning systems are in place," he said.

"I'm here to expres my country's deep sympathy, sorrow and solidarity and with New Yorkers and the victims of this tragedy," Fox said. "We will be side by side with the United States and nations of the world in the fight against terrorism, we have a linked future. What happened here could happen to us."

The terrorst attacks on the World Trade Center may cost the state of New York up to $9 billion in lost revenue in the next two years, according to the state's budget director, Carole Stone.

"I know Gov. (George) Pataki is certainly not going to want to undo a lot of the tax reductions that we've accomplished so far, so I'm really not anticipating at this point that that's the direction we'll be taking," said Stone.

Stone estimated that the state could be hit be a $3 billion loss this fiscal year and $3 to $6 billion in fiscal year 2002-2003. The state does have a "rainy day" fund of less than $3 billion, but Stone said that state agencies have been told to devise budgets of "no growth" for next year or to expect any addtional funding from a supplemental budget expected to be passed this month.

The months-long budget battle between the governor and the legislature may have a silver lining. The governor proposed a $83 billion budget but the legislature wanted to spend several more billion. The disagreement lasted for months, long-past April 1, but the legislature, in agreement with the governor, passed a "bare-bones" budget of $79.6 billion with the understanding that a supplemental budget would be passed later this month. According to Stone the state spent $78.6 million last year.

"We're still looking at the ramifications of Sept. 11 and what that means," said Skip Carrier, spokesman for the Democratically-controlled New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "Everything, education, health care, the economic development for upstate New York is being reassessed."

Pataki has said that in the wake of the terrorst attacks he would like to address the state's budget issues by not raising taxes or laying off state workers.

The Republican-controlled New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno wants outside experts to access the budget but he thinks some "essential spending" could be agreed to in the supplemental budget.

Ambassador Charles Gargano, head of the Empire State Development Corp. said 10,000 businesses, including many small businesses, were affected by the attacks. There were 650 corporations housed in the Twin Towers.

"Most small businesses cannot last one week without a revenue stream," he said. "A $75 billion "stimulation package" is needed from Washington." He said 4 million square feet of office space was avilable, and 9 million square feet were under construction and expected to become available in the next 18 to 36 months.

"A major concern is that these people will leave and never come back," Gargano said. "Most of the larger coporations realize New York City, downtown, is the financial capital of the world, and it took 100 years, and something that won't change so quickly."

"We also gave a list to the president of things that we might be doing as declaring it an Empire Zone which offers many benefits," said former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp, who spearheaded economic opportunity zones for depressed areas 20 years ago as a congressman. "We have Empire Zones around the state of New York in areas that are depressed economically."

Kemp said that some of the things the federal government can do is change zoning and procedures on some of the infrastructure projects.

"We do have to take extraordinary measures and not do business as usual," Gargano said. "We are going to revitalize downtown now."

Gargano added that the 16-acre site of the World Trade Center is an important piece of property "if not the most important piece of property in the world."

"I personally believe that we need a World Trade Center that's part of the financial center that is part of downtown Manhattan with a monument has to be included," he said.

The city, which awarded contracts to four construction companies to haul rubble from ground zero for up to the next year, has hired four accounting firms to monitor the companies -- something described as "standard procedure."

Stier, Anderson & Malone will oversee AMEC Construction Management; Thacher Associates will watch Bovis Lend Lease, Decision Strategies/Fairfax International will watch Tully Construction Co. and Price WaterhouseCoopers will oversee Turner Construction.

New York Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota said the city was erring on the side of caution. "We are not finding anything untoward that has been done to date," Lhota said.

Each of the four contractors will be assigned its own monitor, who will monitor sub-contractors, track equipment, personnel as well set up uniform record-keeping and billing procedures. Authorites are investing an alleged organized crime connected theft of scrap steel from Ground Zero.

Triggered by the release of audio tapes of fire department 9-1-1 calls from Sept. 11 by people who taped them off police and fire scanners, members of the Fire Department of New York held a news conference where several said they are still haunted by many of the calls they received that day.

"Some wanted to run for their lives, you're thinking, 'they'll get help because we get these calls in high-rises all the time,'" said Monsitah Corney. "We tell them what we're trained to tell them, to stay inside because it's more dangerous to go outside. I do regret it. I felt very bad because I told them to stay there. I felt guilty, never in my wildest dreams did I think the building would fall."

Corney said the morning of Sept. 11 started very quietly but then the switchboard lit up and the calls started coming saying that "an airplane has hit the World Trade Center."

"I talked to many people trapped, most wanted to know what to do -- generally starting from 102nd floor up," she said. "I told them what we're trained to tell them, put something under the door to block the smoke from coming in, do not go into the hallway, stay inside and do not go out, wait for the firefighters to rescue you."

Corney said one man was particulary memorible.

"One man kept calling, you could tell he was an executive type, he called several times and got me, he wanted some instruction on how to handle this," she said. "Finally, I said, look, the best thing to do is to not talk so much, to concersve your air and just be still and you'll get some help and shortly after there were no calls."

The dispatchers said the worse part of the morning was the silence after the first Twin Tower collasped.

With tears in his eyes, 47-year-old John Lightsey, said the enormity of it all started to sink in on the Sunday aftrer the terrorist attack when he had some time off because he had been working 18 hours at a time.

"We were working around-the-clock so there was no time to think, but I'm still coming to odds with it. I lost a lot of friends. It's hard to deal with it. It's emotional to talk about it," Lightsey said. "It does bother me a lot. In the office we discuss it and try to help each other, there's been firefighters who come around to help us out."

"No matter what, you're not going to stop a firefighter from going into a building," he added. "You're not going to stop them from saving people."

After the towers collapsed, the dispatchers scrambled to take calls from trapped firefighters.

Cheryl Phillips, 41, took the call from Capt. Alfredo Fuentes, who was found buried in the rubble by rescuers and is one of the few who survived being buried under 110-stories of concrete and steel.

Perhaps, most haunting of all for the fire dispatchers were the calls they fielded from firefighters trapped beneath the rubble pleading to be found, but were not found in time.

Something that has been giving the firefighters and the workers sifting through the rubble looking for bodies and body parts at "Ground Zero" is what appears to be 20-foot tall cross that stands almost completetly upright.

The cast iron cross appears to have fallen intact from the first Twin Tower into where World Trade Center Building 6 stood.

Construction worker Frank Silecchia found the cross and he said he cried for 20 minutes when he did. Many of the workers have been stopping by the cross to think or pray.

The Rev. Brian Jordan, blessed the cross with holy water and said, "Behold the glory of the cross at Ground Zero, this is our symbol of hope, our symbol of faith, our symbol of healing."

For New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who sometimes attends several funerals a day since Sept. 11, the funeral Mass of 41-year-old Capt. Terence Sean Hattan in a packed St. Patrick's Cathedral Thursday was "very hard."

Hattan married, Beth Petrone-Hatton, the mayor's executive assistant for 17 years, in 1998 the mayor's residence, Gracie Mansion, with Giuliani officiating.

The fireman, captain of Rescue 1, was a strapping 6'4" tall, who earned 19 citations for bravery in his 21 years on the job, where he led many dangerous rescues of people or firefighters trapped in buildings. He helped in Oklahoma City after the bombing of the federal building in 1995.

Hattan was eulogized by Giuliani and praised in a letter by President George W. Bush. "Terry Hatton is the kind of man I would like my son to grow up and become," the mayor said.

Gov. George Pataki said he was in inspiration to New York's bravest.

"Any firefighter who believes in the department and in keeping his men safe should think about using his feelings and of how important it was to be professional and as a role model," Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said. "He was a great role model for anyone who wanted to be a firefighter."

His widow discovered she was pregnant days after Hatton's body was found on Sept. 28. He never knew she was expecting their first child.

Joseph Lhota, the first deputy mayor said:

-- 4,986 people are registered as missing by the police

-- 8,786 people injured

-- 396 declared dead

-- 321 identified dead

-- 1,369 requested gov't assistance

-- 16,310 families served at teh family center

-- 1,307 death certificate requested

-- 179,192 tons of material and rubble removed

-- 30,174 tons of steel removed

-- 11,805 truckloads of rubble removed

-- 70 buildings damaged but stable, repair, cleaning

-- 12 buildings listed with major structural damage

-- no single occupancy cars, with exceptions, allowed to enter Manhattan below 63rd St.

-- bridge traffic into Manhattan down 12 percent to 75 percent

-- $100 million a week estimate for clean up

-- $40 billion estimate for cost of attack

-- $7 billion estimate to remove WTC rubble

-- school attendence 88.4 percent

(Reporting by Alex Cukan in Albany, N.Y.)

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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