NEW YORK -- As heavy drizzle and chilly wind swept over rescue workers in lower Manhattan, midtown was abuzz with out-of-state governors who came to prove that the bright lights of New York still burn bright.
The rain and wind numbed the hands of workers picking through the shattered World Trade Center on the coldest night since it was attacked, making their task of finding human remains even more difficult.
The tedious work of sifting by hand through more than a million tons of rubble requires dexterity even in perfect weather, workers said, and the cold conditions Sunday hampered the backbreaking task.
"It's turned pretty miserable. It's making a tough job even tougher," said laborer Luis Montero, 38, as the temperature slipped toward 50 degrees.
Toll of dead, missing in terrorist attacks
Dead and missing from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:
World Trade Center: 5,219 missing; 314 dead
Those on hijacked planes:
American Flight 11: 92
United Flight 175: 65
Pentagon: 189 believed killed
Includes those on hijacked plane:
American Flight 77: 64
United Flight 93: 44 killed
The latest police figures showed 5,219 victims missing at the Trade Center -- down more than 400 as cross-checking eliminated duplications. Officials said 314 bodies had been recovered, with 255 identified.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert toured the site with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Sunday night.
"All America is with the people of New York and certainly the victims and their families," Hastert said. "We are going to do what we can do in Congress to help."
Nearly three weeks after two hijacked jetliners slammed into the twin towers, Gov. George Pataki was expected to announce the deployment of National Guard troops at New York's airports.
President Bush has proposed a number of measures to improve airport security, including the stationing of Guardsmen, in an effort to encourage Americans to fly again.
One group of politicians traveled to New York on a commercial flight to show support for air travel and tourism.
The governors of Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi and Tennessee and Mayor Anthony Williams of Washington, D.C., flew on American Airlines and stayed overnight in Manhattan after eating dinner in the midtown Theater District and seeing "The Lion King."
"We are still in a psychological funk," Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said. "People are not flying, not staying in hotels."
In midtown Manhattan, the group had lunch at the Carnegie Deli, where they enjoyed New York fare such as lox and bagels, Rueben sandwiches and cheesecake.
"Regardless of where we live, we're very much behind the people of New York. We stand behind them," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
A huge, bustling crowd filled the sidewalk in front of the 42nd Street theater, prompting New York Gov. George Pataki to say: "It may be raining, but take a look -- the lights are on, there are thousands of people, the restaurants are open. New York is open. New York is back, stronger than ever!"
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the region's economy would get a boost if the National Football League were to move the 2002 Super Bowl from New Orleans to Giants Stadium, in the New Jersey Meadowlands. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the move is "one of many ideas under consideration" but presents a number of problems, including security.
Commuters returning to Manhattan faced the same traffic restrictions that were tested Thursday and Friday. Mandatory carpooling was to resume at bridges and tunnels heading into lower and midtown Manhattan from 6 a.m. to noon.
Giuliani said the restrictions have worked so far and will continue.
The mayor also said there are no health dangers from the acrid odor rising from the smoldering Trade Center ruins.
"The odor is really just from the fire and the smoke," Giuliani said. "It may be uncomfortable, and it may be offensive -- and it is in many ways -- but the reality is it's not dangerous."
The stench lingered at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, blocks from the Trade Center, where students were set to return Monday for the first time since the attacks. Rescue workers had been sleeping, eating and showering at the college between shifts.
The collapse of the towers caused extensive damage to one of the college's academic halls, forcing some professors to schedule classes in temporary trailers.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.