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NY Firefighter in New Orleans : "This Is Much Worse, This Dwarfs 9/11"

StorySeptember 12, 2005
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As the eyes of the nation remain focused on these devastated Gulf States, people across the country marked the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In Baton Rouge, some 300 New York Police and Firefighters held a commemoration ceremony. We speak with one firefighter about hurricane Katrina and 9/11. [includes rush transcript]

  • New York firefighter, speaking in New Orleans.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to some other people who were driving the streets of New Orleans, firefighters from New York on this anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

FIREFIGHTER: I think this is much worse. This dwarfs 9/11. 9/11 was compacted to a small area. This is the size of the borough of Queens and Brooklyn combined.

AMY GOODMAN: Where you were on September 11, 2001?

FIREFIGHTER: I was working in the Trade Center.

AMY GOODMAN: You guys lost a lot of firefighters.

FIREFIGHTER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: But still, even with all of that, this is worse here in New Orleans?

FIREFIGHTER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, we turn to the Rhode Island National Guard who were making comparisons of their own.

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Right now, they have been cleared and made safe pretty much that there’s no — there’s no enemies or anything like that or any hostile people inside of them.

AMY GOODMAN: Were there any enemies?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Not to my knowledge.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you were just — you were in Iraq in 2003?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: In Fallujah?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Yeah. We were there from June to August 2003.

AMY GOODMAN: What was it like?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Hot.

AMY GOODMAN: What does hot mean?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Over 100 degrees every day.

AMY GOODMAN: Hot.

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Yes. Sorry. I guess my accent was throwing you off.

AMY GOODMAN: And were you there for the siege of Fallujah?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: No. That was long before the siege of Fallujah. We were some of the first troops that were in Fallujah, originally. We basically secured the city, originally.

AMY GOODMAN: How were you received?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Well, at first. Later on, it, you know, it got worse. More of the insurgents moved into the city, and more of the good people moved out. Just, it got worse from there, so.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of what people are saying now about how the funds that should have gone to build the levees were used to put you all in harm’s way in Iraq and used in Iraq?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Those decisions are way above my head.

AMY GOODMAN: How does this compare to Iraq?

NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: Well, the devastation, I mean, it’s — here it’s pretty bad. This is actually worse than anything I think I saw in Iraq, as far as devastated cities go.

AMY GOODMAN: Rhode Island National Guardsmen outside of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, which has been condemned. They were talking about clearing the enemy out of the hospitals, that hospital where the doctors and nurses and more than a thousand patients waited for day after day after day to be rescued.

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