More Machinery Brought To Ground Zero, City to Make Death Certificates Available

(New York-WABC, September 24, 2001) -- Where rescue and recovery efforts are still the priority in lower Manhattan, but more heavy machinery was brought in Monday afternoon to help remove the debris and the mayor has cleared the way for the filing of death certificates. Meanwhile, the rain expected Monday evening could slow the activity at the disaster site again. NJ Burkett reports.

The rain is certainly not going to help workers, but even the best of weather would offer no hope now of finding anyone alive. The mayor said Monday that it would take miracle to do so, still, no seems to be giving up or even slowing down.

After nearly two weeks it has not let up. Hundreds of rescuers amid the vast, smokey ruins of the World Trade Center continued removing the wreckage piece by piece. They go on for hours at a time, some pausing only for a sip of water. Others, who worked through the night, were so exhausted they slept on the ground.

Joe Grimaldi, a firefighter from Atlanta, has been aiding in the search for 10 days.

NJ Burkett, Eyewitness News: "Are you going to be the same after this is all over?" Joe Grimaldi, Atlanta Fire Department: "I don't think anybody will ever be the same. We were in Oklahoma City and there is no concept of what this is like. Incredible. It's terrible."

With each passing day, heavier equipment is being called in, but it remains a very delicate operation.

Carlos Hernandez, NYPD: "There's always a glimmer of hope, but realistically we're starting to realize that maybe it's just not going to happen."

Determined to boost moral today, workers at the Port Authority draped a nearby school with a huge American Flag, the one that once flew from the George Washington Bridge.

Mayor Giuliani, meanwhile, has been preparing the families of the missing for the inevitable. On Monday, he cleared the way for the filing of death certificates.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York City: "We're going to set up a procedure that will be organized by Wednesday in order for those families who would want to apply for a death certificate to be able to do that. We will set up teams of lawyers, who are donating their services free of charge."

The mayor urged the rest of the city to carry on, but for many who live near the wreckage it has been impossible, unable to return to their apartment except for a few minutes each day. One woman was so desperate she pleaded for help from former President Clinton, who visited a local school this morning.

Mark Verlander said his building is undamaged, but says he has been kept away for no obvious reason.

Mark Verlander, Displaced Resident: "It's a terrible thing that happened, but if life's got to go on, we've got to be able to return to our lives too."

The mayor said Monday, that the disaster has wrecked or disrupted countless thousands of lives, and at least 6,400 are missing or confirmed dead.