KFWB radio reporting for Sunday, September 16th, 2001
Smoke Worse Than Before 7:40 AM PDT
As morning broke here, there was no doubting that the smoke billowing above lower Manhattan was at least as bad as it had been late Thursday night, before a spectacular thunderstorm enveloped the island and soaked the city and the Trade Center area for twelve hours.
That... is not good news... for anyone.
That the rain did not put out the fires beneath the rubble, that it did not even significantly tamp them down, reduces again rescuers' hopes of finding any of the nearly 5000 missing, still alive. It also raises the risk those rescuers face, working on what one of them to described to me as a "hot pile." It is, however, sadly, and easily explained. For every piece of rubble removed, there is that much more oxygen provided to the countless small fires, some of them burning 75 feet or more below the ground.
It Is Not All Brotherhood 8:10 AM PDT
In an unprecedented gesture, today's New York Times carries a front-page apology, an acknowledgment that some of the thick Sunday paper was printed before the terrorist attack "and that the tone of some articles and advertising is inconsistent with the gravity of the news." The lead piece in the Sunday magazine is headlined "in the rubble of Silicon Valley."
Suburban railroad executives are still taking heat for ordering posters depicting people missing at The Trade Center, taken down at Grand Central Station for 'aesthetic reasons.' "What is this?" a policeman asks a reporter, "The Louvre?"
Another cop shakes his head as he looks from Canal Street towards the urban volcano five blocks south. His regular beat is the upper west side, and there on Wednesday, he says, when the winds changed and began to blow north, from downtown, a caller complained that his apartment... smelled of smoke and what were they going to do about it?
Warning: the winds are changing again right now, again heading... north.
Tapping 8:40 AM PDT
They have heard it before, and again it did not mean what everyone hoped it might. Someone trapped in the rubble pounding at a few feet of debris above them, can make the same sound as two pieces of twisted metal brushing against each other far below the surface. Still, rescue workers leaving Ground Zero early this morning told reporters they had heard tapping. Mayor Rudolf Giuliani told the media in his late-morning briefing that there was no survivor; he provided no other details.
Rescuers know that though the survivor rate begins to plummet on the day after a collapse, people have survived for more than a week in earthquakes in Mexico, under the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland in 1989. That none of the 4,972 missing have been found since Wednesday has not broken the hope of rescuers clawing at the mountain range of rubble that stands where the Trade Center was, that whatever they heard this morning was not a survivor, does not mean they will give up.
Later in the Giuliani briefing, the term was used again: "rescue mission."
No More Parades 9:10 AM PDT
Mayor Giuliani has pleaded with New Yorkers not to use the newly reopened parts of downtown unless they truly have to. Early yesterday, the barricades along Reade Street were filled mostly by neighborhood residents, silent and stunned by the different perspective of the site provided by getting just two or three blocks closer to it. But by 3 p.m., crowds were pouring off the subways, and taxing the sidewalks in the area. Policemen assigned to barricade duty said they heard more laughter than seemed more appropriate, couldn't swear that these were gawkers from other neighborhoods or the suburbs, but felt it.
Soldiers patrolling the area affording the most dramatic view of the Trade Center, Greenidge Street, were more blunt. "My men need to be out here guiding the relief trucks," an officer shouted towards a crowd standing in an intersection, "not getting you people back up on the sidewalk."
Reminders 11:20 AM PDT
Since Tuesday, the gift shop at the Essex House hotel has had to reorder one item, three times -the postcard depicting the night-time view of The World Trade Center towers.
On the broad sidewalks of Manhattan's tourist blocks, 42nd Street, Broadway, Fifth Avenue, sidewalk art and photo vendors say they're selling almost nothing but images of the Trade Center. "Ninety percent," says Serge, in front of his stand, uptown at Columbus Circle. He has about fifty photos on display. Perhaps five of them don't feature the towers.
And even when some of us aren't trying, New Yorkers can't help but be reminded of the still-startling fact that The Trade Center isn't there. On many of the subway trains rumbling beneath me here, ads for a local university picture a woman pondering her future as she sits in front of... the towers.
The 40 4:00 PM PDT
Night has fallen, the families have gone home, and the small canopy in front of New York Fire Department Engine Company Number 40 has been taken down. Wives, children, neighbors, firefighters, had gathered here on Amsterdam Avenue to support each other. But this was not a memorial.
In a heart-wrenching note to "our families, friends and community," Captain James J. Gormley of the 40 writes "no member from this house is listed as deceased. I consider the members listed missing as still operating at the scene... Hopefully each of our brothers has taken charge of a small group of survivors, and teaches, encourages, and provides significant hope to each group."
Until Tuesday, the largest number of New York firemen ever killed in any one disaster was twelve. The men from the 40 whom Captain Gormley lists as missing number... twelve.