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This transcript is produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

Life has to go on 24/10/01

JEREMY VINE:
The sky still looks angry here. With the train line under the Hudson closed, commuters funnel on to ferries instead, all strangely muted. Their rush hour to Manhattan is two hours long and involves the worst kind of sightseeing. It wasn't just that the view here was dominated by the twin towers, it was the twin towers. Now all you can see are the cranes over there and smoke still rising from the site six weeks on. And the surprise, as we move down the river on this boat, is that we can actually smell the smoke that is coming from ground zero. They don't need reminding their lives have changed.

UNNAMED WOMAN:
I see children and I enjoy seeing them. I'm calling my family more. You just don't know what will happen tomorrow.

UNNAMED MAN:
Any life-changing experience makes you into a different person. You know, you definitely change. Absolutely. I don't think I'll ever look at New York the same way again.

UNNAMED WOMAN:
I try not to look, that's why I'm facing this way.

VINE:
It's just behind you, but you don't look at it?

UNNAMED WOMAN:
No, it's hard for me to look and not see them there. I would rather look at the Statue of Liberty.

VINE:
I was in New York three days after the attack. Coming back, it is profoundly sad to see the missing posters turning ragged as the bereaved finally let go of any hope. There are eye openers on every street corner, but it's the bustle that is impossible to ignore, tempting the thought that normality is forcing itself back into view. Robin Forst gets her children ready for school, but does the painting on the wall or the carpet give it away? The whole family has had to move into a hotel room indefinitely, because their apartment was next to the twin towers. Addresses matter in this city and Robin is desperate to get back to her old one at Battery Park, a 9,000-strong community which she wants to ensure is rebuilt, but life is not quite as simple as that.

ROBIN FORST:
There are many people who have left already, but many more who are undecided as to whether to return. It will be a long time before the area is restored, in terms of transportation and services. The schools are no longer accessible in the neighbourhood and you can smell the fires that still burn over there.

VINE:
If you lived in that actual block, as you did, coming back to look at it, with the space where the twin towers were next to it, must be very affecting?

FORST:
It was bizarre to see buildings that I had never seen before, because they had been obstructed by the World Trade Center towers.

VINE:
Before all this happened, the big issue was whether or not roller blading should be banned, is that right?

FORST:
That's right. A lifetime ago.

VINE:
And home to her hotel. The fountain pen repair business must be one of the most susceptible to a recession, but this store is hardly helped by the fact that it's in the area near ground zero that is sealed off. While a massive repair operation gets under way outside, they make tiny adjustments to gold nibs in a shop where some pens cost $2,000, but very few are shifting. The manager is angry. No-one is passing the shop?

SHOP MANAGER:
No, not at all, no traffic at all. They are all up the end, but nothing through the street.

VINE:
What has that done to your business?

MANAGER:
Hurt considerably.

VINE:
Are people starting to tell you when the fences are coming down?

MANAGER:
There is no answer from the city or the government. We don't know.

VINE:
What about financial help, not just for your business, but particularly for the hard-hit businesses down this road?

MANAGER:
There are loans given right now, but it's hard. If you go for a big loan, I don't know how we will pay it back. We are just not getting any answers.

VINE:
The store is in an area that was known as the hot zone, but angry business people here are now calling it the frozen zone. Nothing moves without ID and a very good reason, and it's possible to see immediately why businesses say they are being asphyxiated. This is a candy store, closed, and this shoe shop here looks like it's out of action. The terrorists did just 20 minutes' work, but the cost of putting this city back together is now being put at $105 billion. If there is one upside, it's that capitalism is suddenly showing a human face. This bailiff claims he's been holding off on repossessions. Are you getting more tolerant of people not paying the rent?

BAILIFF:
Yes. You can't do any evictions down there now. Nothing. You can't serve any papers there.

VINE:
There is no business?

BAILIFF:
You are not allowed to.

VINE:
All the evictions on your front seat, where are they going?

BAILIFF:
Upper East Side.

VINE:
Rebuilding New York is not only economics and filing cabinets. It's also about people. Stacey Farrelly has lost her husband, the father of her three children. Joe, a firefighter, went into the twin towers but hasn't been found. It is difficult for her to think about the future when she's only just accepted that Joe is dead.

STACEY FARRELLY:
I didn't accept it. I kept thinking he was going to be on the cover of Reader's Digest as the miracle man who lasted 100 days without food or water. I saw a counsellor who suggested that I go to the site. I took the kids to the site and when you go there, you realise that no-one is coming out of there.

VINE:
Remarkably, Joe left a note on Stacey's pillow just before he went on his last shift. It said, "I can't begin to tell you how much I love you. Already I can't wait to get home." Julianne sounds wiser than her 11 years.

JULIANNE FARRELLY:
I think to the world, it told everyone to really pay attention. Nobody thought anything like this would happen to them. They always thought it would happen to somebody else.

VINE:
What kind of future does her mother see?

STACEY FARRELLY:
As far as the world and the war and the anthrax, I don't know. But right now, it's day by day. I would like to try to work it out in my own mind. I hope that women who are out there can help us. Because this "time will heal all wounds" is not cutting it for me. I just don't want to do the time. I want to see what will happen.

VINE:
The chaos of September 11th is reflected in the very different reactions now. Some are moving on, others understandably unable to. And meanwhile, the ruins still smoulder.


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