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From the Field
Week Five of AMERICA FIGHTS BACK, Thoughts....
As journalists we go out and get the stories -- the facts. The attacks on New York and Washington, DC have had many of us thinking and soul-searching.
Learn about the industry from professionals working in it! Read "From The Field" for the latest happenings in the field.
Now, radio and television journalists from all over share their feelings. If you'd like to share your thoughts send them to

Brush Off Your Atlas
By Nancy LeMay
When the Soviet Union became unglued in 1990, I was working on the Today Show in New York. For weeks on end, we would be searching atlases, in the dark at 2 and 3 AM, for the newly emerging nations declaring independence. Places we'd never heard of- Uzbekistan, Tajikistan-had to be found so we could make them into maps for TV. No easy task; these nations often had borders that were disputed, so we carefully scoured the map to pick the dotted lines out from the complex topography.

A memorable time when we became acquainted with some of the most obscure spots on earth. We are using our atlases again, and if you haven't really spent time with a good atlas lately, hightail it to your local bookstore and look over the selection. There are many choices now, based on new ways of presenting information, that did not exist when we were in school. Atlases containing illustrated charts of the progress of civilization, the great inventions, the Seven Wonders of the World, and the like, are great for home use if you have school age kids. Satellite imaging has helped refine the maps that show topography- the mountains, valleys, fjords, and steppes of our world.

Forgot what a steppe is? Why not look it up... When we work with an atlas, we often focus on the large, detailed maps of individual countries. These form the bulk of the pages in the book. But there are also other pages that we often ignore, but they are worth studying. Maps showing where languages are spoken, where natural resources are concentrated, or those that show weather patterns, are informative and especially useful at a time like this. They'll show you where people have gathered; why did they want to be there?

Or, the other side of this same question, they reveal the limits, made by the land and by politics and language, which help power events. Take a look at landlocked Afghanistan; a rocky and arid country scoured for months at a time by sirocco winds, having few lakes and little forest. Your atlas will show you these basic facts, help you form your un derstanding, and help you formulate more questions. Maps are, of course, also available on the internet, and the network news sites are brimming with them right now.

They are useful, and a great resource to help appreciate the scope of our actions in Afghanistan. I've made literally thousands of maps for news, sports and even entertainment specials. But I still urge you to own a good atlas- the biggest and best you can afford. Being able to sit, study and compare, say, a political map of central Asia with a map showing mineral resources, or population distribution, or the size and position of Iran- this is essential information right now. The border conflict over Kashmir is suddenly important again- can you find Kashmir on a map? We need to be informed about geography in a level of detail we haven't needed since the Gulf War. Time to get to know the world, in all it's fascinating and challenging detail, once again.

It's Been Unreal
We first heard from Bruce Brodoff the week after the attack on the World Trade Center. If you missed it, that first article can be found in our archives. Now Bruce, a longtime friend of mine, tells us what life has been like since we last heard from him. FYI: Bruce has worked for the Giuliani administration holding the following jobs: 1997-1999: Director of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mayor's Office of Emergency Management/1999-Present and Vice President, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, New York City Economic Development Corporation -- He's dealt extensively with the media. I think you'll be amazed by the press release Bruce shares with us in his thoughts.

BY Bruce Brodoff

The past few weeks have been extraordinary time to be a New Yorker and to work for the Giuliani Administration. A few days after the disaster I was summoned to work at the Joint Information Center that was created within the emergency command center complex on the west side of Manhattan (housed in a Passenger Ship Terminal along the Hudson River).

This command center was at least as big as a football field and contained the Mayor's temporary offices, a press area where the Mayor conducted his press briefings, and the massive area where dozens of City, State, and Federal agencies coordinated the rescue operation. Hundreds of uniformed personnel and civilians worked in tandem, ordering and deploying equipment and manpower, using sophisticated equipment to try to trace cell phone signals within the wreckage or create detailed maps of the devastated area, creating emergency relief programs for affected businesses and individuals, and informing the media and general public.

To accommodate these workers, scores of cots were set up in a private area, and the Red Cross served thousands of meals, snacks, and hygiene products around the clock. During the first three weeks of the disaster a Navy Hospital Ship, the USN COMFORT, was docked next to the Pier and offered meals, sleeping quarters, and clothing to any relief workers who needed a meal, some sleep, clean clothes, or a shower.

I spent one unforgettable night aboard the ship; the memories of walking up the gangplank past M-16 toting soldiers, checking in at the registration desk that was set up in one of the ship's many operating/recovery areas, passing the "Burn Unit ICU" on my way to my room, and grabbing breakfast in the mess hall while watching the latest news reports on the attack are seared into my brain.... (The USN Comfort eventually departed for an unknown destination. Since the ship saw action during the Gulf War, I'm assuming it is somewhere close to the action.

I pray that the ship's 1,000 beds remain empty during the coming months.......) The pier next to the Emergency Command Center housed the Family Assistance Center, another massive facility that focused directly on the families of the victims and those who lost their jobs or homes due to the disaster. Numerous agencies and organizations offered financial assistance, mental health and spiritual counseling, food, a place to rest, free internet and phone service, first aid, child care, etc. I saw enough suffering at this center to last ten lifetimes....

Along the sidewalk leading to the center was a makeshift memorial to the victims that featured hundreds of the "MISSING" fliers that family members created and posted.

Seeing the pictures of the happy people, some holding their children or other loved ones, completely unaware at the time the picture was taken that this would be the photo used in connection with their horrific death, was too much to bear. Reading hand-scrawled messages like "DADDY, PLEASE COME HOME; WE MISS YOU", or "SUSAN, YOU SAID FOREVER" just twisted the knife that was already in my heart.

These individual pictures and stories turn the death toll from an abstract number -- "5,000 dead" -- into reality. EVERYBODY here knows someone who was affected.

One of my co-workers got married in August to a woman who worked on the 70th Floor of the North Tower; He was a widower just weeks after tying the knot..... Security at the emergency command center was tight; police officers and soldiers roamed the area, their fingers on the trigger of the automatic weapons draped over their shoulders.

Special photo I.D.'s were needed for access, and even then you had to set down whatever bags you were carrying so police dogs could give them a once-over. The Joint Information Center consisted of about seven or eight PIO's assembled from various City agencies, the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Hundreds of calls were processed everyday, from journalists, news organizations, and people from all around the world.

Most wanted the same thing: access to ground zero and the landfill where the debris is being processed, interviews with the Mayor, the latest statistics on the number of missing and dead, the amount of debris removed and remaining, the economic impact this disaster is having on NYC. Access to ground zero was only by pool coverage, and the landfill was -- and is - completely off limits. Most info we released was based on the information we compiled before and during the press briefings the Mayor conducted several times a day.

I had the opportunity to attend these press conferences --many featured top national and international politicians -- and watch history unfold before my eyes. (Visitors to the Command Center included Elton John, President Bill Clinton and Muhammad Ali) I must admit that I started to lose my patience with the media after a couple of weeks. Perhaps it was the long hours in the bustling command center, the repetitive requests, the obsession with the latest figures of the dead and missing, the sometimes STUPID or inappropriate questions or requests, the combination of working hard while trying to deal with my own emotions, being displaced from my home (which was right across the street from the World Trade Center), and the steady diet of Red Cross meals; No matter how much one wants to contribute during a time of crisis, this isn't the kind of work that can be done for weeks on end without needing a break....

The Monday after the disaster I got a police escort down to ground zero so I could retrieve some things from my apartment (which is right across the street from the WTC). Being in the back of a police car heading south on the West Side Highway was an experience I'll never forget.

The City set up a special traffic lane for emergency vehicles, so we had this lane to ourselves and sped past the usual heavy flow of traffic until 34th Street. This traffic was diverted east at 34th Street, so for the rest of the way we had the entire West Side highway to ourselves. At every intersection were crowds of people behind police barricades, cheering, waving, applauding, and holding up signs that said things like "God Bless", "Thank You", and "We Love You." Their extraordinary outpouring of emotion was met with appreciative "whoop whoops" from the police car's siren.... The rest of the trip towards ground zero was surreal.

Once familiar neighborhoods were now staging areas for the City's emergency services, the military, the Red Cross, and the international media. Countless numbers of construction equipment, ambulances, military vehicles, satellite TV trucks, and pallets of medical supplies, food, water, and other goods lined the streets for miles. The sky darkened as we approached the site, due to the setting sun and the dark smoke that still hung in the downtown air.

We finally worked our way into my apartment complex after passing through several military checkpoints along Broadway. The streets west of Broadway were by now fenced off and guarded by police officers and soldiers in full combat gear. As we passed these streets I was able to see for the first time sickening and appalling glimpses of the devastation.

As we entered Battery Park City it became obvious that what was a fashionable and somewhat exclusive neighborhood before September 11th was now a war zone. (This link will take you to a picture of one of the buildings in my apartment complex, the one that directly faces the WTC:
The circular driveway that formed the centerpiece of my apartment complex was filled with dust and debris. The once lively complex was now eerily deserted. I was allowed to enter my building only after signing a form that confirmed my understanding that by entering this building I would be subjected to all sorts of danger (possible broken glass and other debris, darkened hallways, toxic air. (I was prepared for the toxic air, having grabbed an industrial strength gas mask at the command center).

Signing the form of course released my landlord from any liability if I was injured or killed during my time on the property. Passing the elevator, I read a notice posted by the FBI that had pictures of what an airline black box looks like, just in case we happened to stumble upon one during our travels...... The electricity in the building was out, but the stairwells had emergency lighting.

I climbed the four flights to my apartment, followed by the weird shadows the lamps threw upon the walls. I finally reached my darkened hallway and stood at my door, not sure if I wanted to see what was on the other side. There were plenty of stories (most confirmed) about people entering their apartments and finding parts of buildings, planes, and people. I took a deep breath of filtered air and turned the key.

I opened my windows wide that morning before I went to work and wouldn't have been surprised if I walked into ash piled chest-high. While the damage to my apartment was minimal compared to what it could have been, there was a thick layer of ash over EVERYTHING. While stuffing clothes into a duffel bag, I absent-mindedly threw the bag on my bed and watched a plume of ash rise from my comforter.

It pained me to think about what that ash consisted of... I'm still displaced from my apartment, even though my landlord officially opened my building on Saturday, October 13th (the only building out of six in my complex to open). I went to check things out and the area is completely inhospitable -- the smell from the fires still burning across the street was HELLACIOUS on Saturday afternoon, but it does depend on which way the wind blows -- sometimes you don't smell a thing in Battery Park City while at the same time people in midtown are gagging from the smell....

Even though my landlord opened the building, a Federal Emergency Management Agency inspector deemed it "uninhabitable" when he inspected my apartment a few weeks ago. The conditions that deemed it uninhabitable (primarily regarding restricted access that could hinder fire trucks and ambulances getting to the neighborhood in case of emergency) are obviously still there....

I'm staying at my brother's place while he's in Florida, and will be moving to a furnished corporate apartment for a couple of months by the end of the week. My apartment lease expires at the end of February, so I have to figure out what to do....

Things are just getting crazier here, especially with the anthrax situation. Anthrax in New York??!! It was just a few years ago that I wrote this press release (when I was with the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management) regarding a training exercise we conducted to test preparedness for a chemical attack:

Date: November 9, 1997 Release #679-97
Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958, Curt Rifler (212) 788-2971, Bruce Brodoff (212) 442-9260 (OEM)
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced today Sunday, November 9, New York City will conduct "Operation I.C.E.," an inter-agency training exercise designed to prepare emergency responders for the possibility of a terrorist attack. "Operation I.C.E. " consists of three inter-related training events intended to measure a different aspect of New York City's public safety system.

The centerpiece of "Operation I.C.E. "is FIELDEX, an elaborate field exercise that will simulate a chemical attack on a large public gathering. Today's operation was launched in lower Manhattan bounded by Chambers Street to the South, Vestry Street to the North, West Street to the West and Varick Street to the East. Today's simulation will involve approximately 600 emergency response professionals from the Police Department, Fire Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the Departments of Environmental Protection, Health, and Transportation.

The Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will also participate in this field exercise which is under the direction of Jerome M. Hauer, Director of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management. "It is imperative that New York City be prepared for every kind of disaster, including terrorists," said Mayor Giuliani. "Operation I.C.E."-- the culmination of a year-long disaster preparedness project will help our emergency responders prepare for any situation. Today's exercise is a great example of inter-agency cooperation among City and Federal agencies. I want to thank the emergency personnel and volunteers who participated in today's exercise, their efforts today will better protect and prepare our City and fellow New Yorkers."

It seemed like make-believe at the time......and we conducted this drill just blocks north of the World Trade Center; in fact, the college gym we used as a holding area for the "victims" of the "attack" (volunteer high schools students) is now a real-life emergency command center. It's hard to reconcile the memory with the reality every time I drive past the gym.... I spent part of Saturday and Sunday walking ALL over ground zero, in and around the areas where the buildings once stood and looked out over the main crater (the former public plaza that was between the towers) -- holy shit, you wouldn't believe the destruction.

It is monumental -- I can't even picture the neighborhood as it once was, and I live across the street from it! Every now and then I was able to orient myself and figure out where I was standing and what I was looking at.. I felt like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes, seeing the Statue of Liberty and realizing where he's like the most amazing movie set ever created (especially at night, with the smoke pouring out of the ground backlit by the giant emergency lights), but the horror and death is way too real.....they pulled out five more bodies just a few hours after I left the site yesterday.... I also watched city officials escort about 70 people who lost loved ones in the attack to a just-built wooden platform that overlooks the site.

These people, who were from all walks of life, clutched teddy bears and flowers as they made their way past me to the observation deck. The pain etched in their faces, and the tears streaming down their cheeks, was unbearable to witness....... New York City will eventually rebuild Lower Manhattan, and for most of us the shock and pain will no doubt ease over time. I'll never forget this dark period in history, but I'm glad I got to see first-hand (and participate in) the efforts made by some of the most amazing people I've ever met. From the government officials and emergency personnel to the elderly volunteers handing out bottled water to the young school children presenting emergency workers with hand-made cards and letters, these people from all walks of life really restored my faith in humanity.