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New York City Hall Reopens; Recovery Continues - 2001-09-17

City Hall opened in New York Monday, just blocks away from the deadly terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The around-the-clock rescue operation to find some of the 5,000 people who are missing continues, but hope of finding victims alive is fading.

Despite the work of thousands of volunteers from all over the United States and Canada, no one has been brought out of the wreckage alive since Wednesday, but city officials say the top priority is still the rescue effort.

Three thousand members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency are now in New York, working in disaster recovery, and relieving exhausted rescue workers. FEMA official Ted Monette says they are bringing in additional teams of dogs and sophisticated sensors, a mobile emergency response system and medical and structural engineering teams.

Mr. Monette says eight search and rescue teams have been brought in. He says rescue, not recovery, remains at the top of the agenda. "We are going to stay in the rescue and response mode for as long as it takes, until we are sure that we have done everything possible, provided every resource, and we do not want to hurry that," he said. "As long as there is hope, we are going to continue that effort. The city is going to continue it. At some time in the future, we will make that judgment as to when we go into recovery."

Mr. Monette estimates it will take more than three months to remove all the debris from the area. But he says the air quality in lower Manhattan is fine, and workers coming into the area do not have to worry about it.

People returning to work Monday created massive traffic jams a sign that New Yorkers are coming to grips with the enormous tragedy.