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Breaking News

Earthquake Hits the Pacific Northwest

Aired February 28, 2001 - 5:15 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Continuing now with our coverage of the earthquake several hours ago in the area around Seattle, Washington. Let's go to Omaha, Nebraska, to our White House correspondent Major Garrett, who's been on the road today with President Bush -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the president and his senior staff have been assessing the situation in Seattle for the better part of the afternoon and began doing so after they arrived here in Omaha, Nebraska for the second of three stops today to promote the president's budget and tax plan. At the third stop today in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the president met with reporters and discussed what the federal government is doing to assist the residents of Seattle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to the FEMA director. He is on top of it. We're gathering all the information. He's in touch with the officials in the state of Washington. I think the governor is on an airplane now, but as soon as he lands we'll be in touch and we'll assess whatever damage and provide whatever resources are necessary to help the people.

QUESTION: When were you told?

BUSH: I was told in Omaha.

QUESTION: A message to the people out in Washington?

BUSH: Well, god bless, obviously. Anything we can do to help we will do so.

QUESTION: Can you talk about your contingency plan as a part of your budget outline and...

BUSH: Well, we've got -- we've got money set aside for emergencies such as these.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: The first comments the president made about the situation in Seattle was in the context of pitching his budget plan, telling the residents in Council Bluff, Iowa that in fact his budget allows for contingencies, emergencies, he said, like the one we've just had today in Seattle: proof, the president said, he's allowed for emergencies and other things plus a tax cut, plus debt reduction, plus protecting Social Security and Medicare.

It's worth pointing out, Judy, that on this day, a day that the president and his White House staff hoped would focus entirely on his push for that budget and tax plan, he's having to share the stage yet again with another news event, this tragedy in Seattle -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Major, since this president has been in office -- what? -- not even barely, or a little over five weeks now, is it harder for them to get information and so forth because all the people are new in place at FEMA and these other agencies that are involved here?

GARRETT: Well, there's certainly no indication of that outwardly. I mean, the FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh, is a very close friend of the president's. He was his campaign manager. The president placed him there to make sure he would have a very trusted adviser in an agency he considers very important, an agency that he has said before is the government's first face at a time of tragedy. And there's certainly no indication here that they're having any trouble.

Usually, the federal government is the second or third relief agency when it gets involved in disasters. Obviously the local jurisdictions and the state jurisdictions are on the front line. The federal government tends to come in a little bit afterwards. That's sort of the situation here, as FEMA is trying to develop damage assessments plus find out from the residents in Seattle what they most need and what the federal government can actually provide, because of course local and state jurisdictions provide the most immediate relief -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And just finally, Major, the rest of the president's budget tour, will that continue as planned?

GARRETT: Oh, yes, absolutely as planned. We leave here tonight for Little Rock, Arkansas, where the president will begin his day tomorrow. That stop in Little Rock is designed to, let's say, put a little pressure on a couple of members of Congress from Arkansas, then off to Atlanta, Georgia. That stop in Georgia is designed to congratulate and thank Zell Miller, the one and only Senate Democrat who has so far endorsed the Bush tax plan, but also to maybe encourage the other Democrat from Georgia, Max Cleland, to do the same -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Major Garrett, traveling with President Bush. And he's now in Omaha. Thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: And continuing our earthquake coverage, in Washington state CNN's, Katharine Barrett is standing by in Seattle, about 35 miles from where the quake was centered -- Katharine.

KATHARINE BARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Seattle and the surrounding area has not seen anything like this, has not experienced anything like this in nearly a half a century. The area I'm standing in now is one of the older parts of downtown Seattle. Most of the buildings here around 100 years old, and they are some of the buildings that withstood the most damage in this earthquake.

Seattle's main infrastructure -- its highways, its roadways and its bridges -- came through in relatively good shape from what we know so far. But these buildings in this area, many of them made out of brick -- and as I say nearly 100 years old -- were damaged. We had bricks down in the street, windows broken. People are cleaning up the bricks. There are parts that are cordoned off by police, and building inspectors are looking at some buildings that have had walls fall down: again brick and ornamental plaster and stonework that has fallen into the streets.

One man walked by me here holding a piece of a building in his hand that he said had fallen off while he was standing in the street underneath it.

But again, the damage so far relatively superficial at this point. The headquarters of Starbucks Coffee Company is also in an older company south of here a little bit. It was severely damaged. There's a big visible crack running down the side of the building. Many office workers have been evacuated from their buildings just as a preventative measure while building inspectors look at and see what the damage has been.

I'm joined now by Betty Rasmussen. Now, Betty, you were in one of Seattle's newer buildings. Tell me where you were and what happened when the earthquake struck.

BETTY RASMUSSEN: I was on the 42nd floor of the Key (ph) Tower, which is a fairly new building. It's about 5 years old. And it shook quite a bit, but very, very, very little damage, minimal, maybe a couple of little ceiling things. Other than that, everybody was fine. But it was quite a ride.

BARRETT: Yeah. What went -- what was going through your head as it happened?

RASMUSSEN: Well, when it first happened, I heard a big boom, and I thought something like, you know, ran into the side of the building or something. And then all of a sudden, I saw my cubicle partner panic, and then all of a sudden the rolling went, and I went, oh, my god, an earthquake. And then you just try to remember everything that you learned about earthquakes, and I dove under my desk and I stayed there until it was -- it was over. That's about it.

BARRETT: And then what was the -- what was the sort of reaction afterwards? Were people relieved...

RASMUSSEN: Relieved, shocked, amazed that the building held up as well as it did, because it is a tall building and you get -- I mean, we were really, really swaying, but it was just we had a heck of a ride, but it was safe, safer than down here, I think, all in all.

BARRETT: Thank you very much for speaking with us.

There you have it. Again as Seattle's mayor said, the city, he thinks, has weathered this relatively well, but it certainly came as a shock to a city and an area that has not seen seismic activity like this since the 1940s.

Back to you.

SHAW: OK, Katharine Barrett with the latest from Seattle. Thanks very much. And we'll be right back with more coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earthquake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earthquake.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep rolling. Keep rolling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, so you barely got to see this guy's face. That was apparently, as we are told, the Associated Press photographer...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Just one of the pictures coming in from the Seattle, Washington area, where just a few hour ago an earthquake magnitude 6.8 struck, we're told now. About a dozen people were injured -- at least at this point, that's all the information we have. At least three of them seriously.

The governor of the state of Washington, Gary Locke, now putting damage into the billions of dollars. He said that overpasses and roads have sunk, in his words, and he talked about severe damage to the state capitol building and to the governor's mansion.

Joining us now on the telephone from Golden, Colorado is Richard Ortner with KMGH TV. And Richard, you were with -- at the U.S. Geological Survey.

What are they telling you?

RICHARD ORTNER, KMGH CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're telling us that this was a very strong quake. This was not a major quake. Earlier they had a 7.0 magnitude on this particular earthquake, but they did go ahead and decrease that to 6.8. And joining me right now is Waverly Person. He is the director of the National Earthquake Information Center.

Tell us a little bit about what you can expect from this point on with this in terms of aftershocks.

WAVERLY PERSON, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: Well, one of the things that we are seeing right now is following the pattern that we thought it would. We are seeing no aftershocks of any significance because of the depth of the earthquake. The earthquake is about 50 kilometers below the Earth's surface, and usually earthquakes of that depth generate very few aftershocks. And in 1949, when they had the big earthquake there, we had very few aftershocks. And it was in the 7.0 range. We expect this one to follow the same pattern.

So it looked like the main shock is really the thrust of what they'll get in the area.

ORTNER: I think a lot of times when we hear earthquakes, we automatically think California. But the dynamics of the fault with this particular earthquake are significantly different. Tell me a little bit about that.

PERSON: Well, this earthquake here was caused by the Juan de Fuca plate. The Juan de Fuca plate was kind -- been under the North American plate, and that's what caused this earthquake. So people look at California for having the earthquakes, and naturally because of the frequency of damage in earthquakes in California, they kind of forget that the rest of the United States can also have earthquakes. They're just not as frequent.

ORTNER: Now we have a drum over here that actually recorded the earthquake as it happened just before 11 o'clock local time. Tell me a little bit about that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

PERSON: This right here is our seismometer, just right under the building. And this is one coming from Wisconsin. And you can see that it's a large earthquake, and just about everyone that had a seismograph stationed in the world recorded this. This is a magnitude 6.8. It's a strong earthquake and capable of causing considerable damage.

ORTNER: Now, is this comparable to any other earthquakes along the West Coast?

PERSON: If you look at the one that was in 1994 -- that was in Northridge -- it was a magnitude 6.7. That earthquake was much shallower than this one, comparable size. They had about 68 people killed, and now they're saying the damage is probably 40 billion.

ORTNER: Now at this point, what will you be doing here?

PERSON: We'll be looking at -- for aftershocks, if there should be any, and we'll be looking at our data to see if there's anything else that we haven't discovered from this earthquake.

ORTNER: All right. Very good. Waverly, thank you very much.

So, Judy, Bernie, at this point, it looks like they are going to go ahead and keep it at a 6.8 magnitude. Obviously, that is a very strong earthquake, and they're going to be watching this one carefully here in the center.

Reporting live for CNN, I'm Richard Ortner.

WOODRUFF: Richard, it's Judy.

ORTNER: Yes.

WOODRUFF: I just have one other question. As you mentioned, they've changed their estimates of the magnitude several times. They started out saying it was in the 6.0 and then it went to 7.0 and now it's back to 6.8. Why is that? Why the changes?

ORTNER: Well, as they get more information in, that's when they're able to really specify what the magnitude is of that particular earthquake. As you might imagine, as soon as something like this happens, the media just bombards this particular office. And they want to know, "What was it? What was it? What was it?"

Well, on this particular case, they did have some preliminary data in and that data suggested that it was maybe a 6.2 or a 6.3. Then as they begin to get more information -- and it looked like it might be a little bit stronger, maybe a major earthquake at a 7.0. Now, that's huge.

Now, as they continued to get the information in the past hour or so, that's when they finally decided to go ahead and call it a 6.8. And at this point, that looks like that's what they're going to leave.

WOODRUFF: All right, Richard Ortner, with KMGH TV, reporting from Golden Colorado and the U.S. Geological Survey. Thanks very much.

ORTNER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Bernie.

SHAW: And clearly, we continue getting information on this developing story. Gary Locke is the governor of Washington state. Here now are some remarks by the governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GARY LOCKE (D), WASHINGTON: Very few people injured. There is some serious injuries, but so far, no reports of deaths. So, we ought to be very, very thankful about that.

QUESTION: And finally, are your family members fine, and where were you when it hit?

LOCKE: Well, family is OK. They were in the mansion, getting ready to leave, and everything came toppling off the bookshelves, and TVs off the TV stand came crashing down. Scared the kids. They were pretty shaken up, but the major structural damage inside the mansion and outside the mansion.

I was in the governor's office at the time, having a meeting. As soon as it hit, I said that sounds like pretty heavy construction. Then I said that's more than construction. It's an earthquake. So, we had everybody get underneath the desks and the tables. And then after it was a large, long vibration, a very heavy vibration and then the floor seemed to just slide back and forth. It was pretty harrowing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Well, we'll continue our coverage of this story, the earthquake in Washington state. When we return, we're going to check in with Karen Maginnis for a look at the weather. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... downtown Seattle at the very moment that this earthquake hit. He was at the Westin Hotel, and these are pictures that we've just gotten in. Let's listen, very quickly. You can see people starting to scramble here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are pictures just in from the Westin Hotel downtown, where Bill Gates was addressing an education technology conference meeting, and again, this quake just hitting about 15 minutes ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Some pretty remarkable pictures from that conference, as you just heard, from downtown Seattle at the time the earthquake hit. And we want to tell all of you viewers who may be tuning in about this time that we had planned to have a special hour of tribute to my colleague, Bernard Shaw, at this hour.

Because of the earthquake in Seattle and the Seattle area, we have decided to postpone that program until Friday, this Friday, March 2nd at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. So, we know you will want to tune in. Bernie, you're going to be back for that, right?

SHAW: Yes, yes. Back, it will be good to be back.

WOODRUFF: We're not letting you go, no matter what. And now back to our main news story of this day. And for more on the geological forces that may have caused this earthquake, we're going to join CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Hi, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Judy. And we have a very effective image of what happened at the time of the earthquake. This is a seismogram. The seismograph recorded this image. You can see kind of the build-up leading towards the earthquake and then you can see this big jolt, or this primary wave, the p-wave and then what happens after. That's a lot of moving around. That's where you see most of your damage. That is the secondary wave.

This happened along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. What essentially that means is this plate essentially goes under this North American plate and this activity took place about 30 to 40 miles deep. Now, that's considered a moderate to deep earthquake. If it were shallower, more at surface, then we probably would have seen even more considerable damage.

Now, how does this influence our ring of fire, at least across the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia extending on down into California? Well, we have these very active volcanoes, most notably, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and we know that the earthquake -- could it have its influence on these volcanoes?

Certainly, it is possible. At this point, we don't think that it is plausible, but at least it looks like we will continue to monitor these. All of these, by the way, do get monitored every hour of every day, by the way.

Let's go ahead and tell you about some of the previous earthquake activity that we have seen. Types of earthquake, deep is considered about 40 miles-plus. It can go all the way down to 180 miles. In Olympia, 1949, you've probably already heard about this one, 7.1 magnitude. Less shallow ones you're very familiar with. One in Willamette Valley back in 1993, 5.6. But even stronger in 1872 in the Northern Cascade.

Well, as I mentioned, the subduction zone, that is this plate that goes under this North American plate, and we get that initial jolt, that p-wave and then the s-wave, the secondary wave, and that's where we start to see most of the damage. And usually what that does is it causes some sheering, a lot of that shaking around. Initially that jolt is what you feel initially and know that something is happening.

So, Judy and Bernie, I have, as a matter of fact, in Alaska right around Mount St. Elias, was in an earthquake and it is frightening when you feel that first jolt take place and then you continually swing around for what seems like hours, but, in fact, it was just only a few seconds.

WOODRUFF: The pictures certainly look frightening. All right, Karen Maginnis, thanks very much and Bernie, you were there in Los Angeles. What year was that?

SHAW: I just was thinking about that. Wasn't it '96?

WOODRUFF: '96, you were in a hotel room.

SHAW: I was at the Regents Beverly Wilshire. I was in bed and about 4:15, the bed started shaking and I popped on the light and I was afraid the chandelier in the center of the ceiling was going to hit me in bed, and I rolled out and called the emergency hot line news number at CNN headquarters in Atlanta and we were off and going. Charles Bierbauer, Frank Sesno and other correspondents who were out there for an awards program and we effectively -- we went to work.

WOODRUFF: Which is what you always do in those situations.

SHAW: Well, an earthquake is very unsettling because the ground and or floor beneath your feet is moving, and you have no control over it.

WOODRUFF: I've never been in one. It's extraordinary, though. You look at those pictures. You saw the one of the fellow in his office with the computers moving, and he had a look of sheer fright on his face.

SHAW: Well, I got concerned when the television popped out of the cabinet and hit the floor. But let's go now to CNN's Susan Reed at Cal Tech in Pasadena.

SUSAN REED, CNN PRODUCER: Bernie, we're here on the campus, which is also the headquarters in Southern California of the U.S. Geological Survey, and they're telling us that the chances of aftershocks in the Seattle area are very low because of the way the geology works under the ground.

And as you've been discussing, the quake occurred 30 miles underground. So, the closest people to it were 30 miles away, and what that causes is a rolling motion which would most affect older buildings that don't have the new engineering. So, that's the kind of damage that we're seeing, older buildings with less engineering.

Now, that was a 6.8 quake that we saw today in Seattle. And it's interesting to think about what a kind of quake of that magnitude, what effect it would have in Southern California. You know, six years ago, the Northridge quake was of a similar magnitude. It was 6.7.

But the damage was very, very widespread. A lot of homes destroyed, you remember the classic picture of the three-story apartment building that fell down to just one story. And that is because the plates in Southern California shift against each other and it causes much more damage.

But Lucy Jones is a scientist in charge of the USGS for Southern California, and she says because of the difference of the geology that does not mean that quakes in the Pacific Northwest are not extremely dangerous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUCY JONES, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: The Pacific Northwest is, in fact, seismically, one of the most dangerous parts of the United States because the Pacific Ocean is passing down underneath the state of Washington. And there's the slab of material that can produce some very large earthquakes. And we're in a different type of margin down here in Southern California, where we go side-by-side. So in fact, they can have worse earthquakes, they just have them less frequently and therefore are well-prepared. (END VIDEO CLIP)

REED: Now, Dr. Jones also says that we are not in the same situation in terms of being in any way connected through the fault line. Some of the L.A.-San Francisco fault lines are connected a little bit, but the ones up in the Pacific Northwest are different, and you know, they're all part of the Earth, but they're basically not connected.

I also asked her if this could be any reading of more seismic activity, any kind of idea that we might have a bigger quake down the line, somewhere in the fault zones and she said no. This is Susan Reed reporting live from Pasadena. Back to you.

SHAW: Thank you, Susan. And we're going to pause for a break. And as we do, we're going to show you the latest pictures we're getting in now from Seattle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: This brief update now on the strong earthquake that hit Washington state, where the governor has declared a state of emergency. About six minutes before 11:00 a.m. Eastern -- pardon me, 11:00 a.m. Pacific time, a magnitude 6.8 tremor struck the Pacific Northwest, centered about 35 southwest of Seattle.

At this time, more than 20 people are reported injured across the region. But so far, so far, there are no reports anyone was killed. The damage was widespread throughout the Seattle area, including shattered windows, falling bricks and walls, and widespread power outages.

In Olympia, near where the quake was centered, a crack was detected at the state capitol and lawmakers were forced to evacuate. The Seattle-Tacoma Airport was closed and the control tower was evacuated. And back in Seattle, 30 people were delayed atop the famous Space Needle for a time, as officials tested the structure's elevator for damage -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bernie, we've been looking at those taped pictures from KING-TV in Seattle, and now we're going to listen in on some live coverage from KING.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slowly getting back to normal. We've seen the fact...

WOODRUFF: I believe these are -- we're saying they are live pictures. I'm not sure they are. No, this must have been earlier today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to Tom Pierce, who is with Community Transit in Snohomish County, and Tom, can you tell us how the earthquake has affected bus service in Snohomish County?

TOM PIERCE, COMMUNITY TRANSIT: Well, all of service is actually, currently is operating mostly on schedule. We haven't really had a lot of problems with our service here in the county. We've also done a lot of work with our commuter service because, probably within an hour of the earthquake, I was talking to some of the people who run our commuter services, and we were rolling extra buses down to Seattle to help the commuters leave because it sounds like things are closing up down there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you able to get buses down to Seattle and help alleviate some of the traffic problems down here?

PIERCE: Well, that was one of our goals. Of course, we wanted to make sure that everybody who used our buses to get there this morning was able to get out of there, and basically, anybody else who wanted to also.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you anticipate, Tom, that tomorrow's bus service will be normal, not only in your county, but in those commuters from Snohomish County who worked out here in the Seattle area?

PIERCE: I would think so at this point. I would have to talk to somebody over in that department. But as far as I know, it sounds like things, we're hoping to get back to normal. One thing I would like to remind people is that our service -- we are running free service for an undetermined amount of time at this point just because a lot of people are having trouble and trying to find a couple of bucks to get on the bus. It would be easier to say hop, we'll take you where you need to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is unusual, what happened today. And you really -- you prepare for this, but you never expect it to happen?

PIERCE: Well, I'll tell you, I was actually in a class this morning, and two hours before the quake hit, we actually discussed what we do in the case of a disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, Tom Pierce with the community transit in Snohomish County. Let's now bring in Robert Marshall. Robert, you're with Emergency Management Services?

ROBERT MARSHALL, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SERVICES: Yes, sir, that's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give us the rundown, from your point of view, as to what's happened today and how things are progressing so far?

MARSHALL: Well, as you can see, it's obviously a mess, and it looks like the airport is going to be closed for at least another two days. We don't want to bring in any planes or let any planes go out due to debris on the runway and what not. Basically, the damage has been estimated in the billions, and as you saw a little while ago, President Bush is on top of this as we speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say billions. You're able to make that estimation so far. On what basis are you able to do that?

MARSHALL: Well, that's what someone said to me. That's what one of my superiors said to me. We don't have an exact estimate yet as to, you know, how it happened. As you know, it was a 6.8 on the Richter scale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert, again you say -- you have word that the airport, you're talking about Sea-Tac; correct?

MARSHALL: That's correct. Yes, it is believed now that the earthquake was started because Benji fell on his fat ass when he was going on the Howard Stern show studio.

WOODRUFF: Well, those things happen. Those were live pictures, as you could tell, in conversation from KING TV in Seattle. More of our coverage of this earthquake.

SHAW: You know, Judy, pardon me for interrupting you, just an observation, it was very interesting the reporter doing that interview, you could sense his skepticism when he asked how are you able to forecast that the damage is in the billions of dollars so soon. And that's what this caller revealed himself as a hoaxer.

WOODRUFF: That's right, that's right. All right, more coverage of this earthquake when we come back. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just coming in from our crews in downtown Seattle. That looks to be like the Icon Grill, which is on Fifth Avenue, Fifth and right just...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: For more on today's strong earthquake in the area of Seattle, Washington, we're joined on the telephone now by James Lee Witt, who was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, in the Bill Clinton administration.

Mr. Witt, thank you for joining us.

JAMES LEE WITT, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: You're welcome, Judy.

WOODRUFF: What information, we know you are no longer in that position, but you're clearly very close to the agency. What information do you have, the latest information on the extent of the damage?

WITT: Well, of course, you know, in comparison to what Northridge earthquake was in California in '94, it's not near as severe. But they have quite a bit of damage, but you really can't tell on an earthquake because an earthquake will damage sometimes the structure of a building, and you may not see that damage until do you a thorough inspection of them.

And so they still probably are going have to go through a lot of those buildings to make sure that the structural integrity of the building is still safe, and that may take a few days to complete all that. But the damage you see now that the bricks falling off and other things is not as severe as you had thought with that magnitude of an earthquake Because Seattle and King County and Pierce County have all been a Project Impact community and have done a lot of retrofitting and a lot of prevention measures on buildings in their city for several years now.

And they have even mapped all their fault lines and have done an exceptionally good job, and I credit having not anyone more injured than they have or any fatalities to that prevention.

WOODRUFF: And evidently, they are also fortunate because the earthquake was as deep as it was. We're told some 30 miles below the ground. James Lee Witt, what parts of the infrastructure are the most vulnerable in a situation like this? We know the governor has already talked about roads, overpasses, sinking, what kinds of things are the engineers and others going to be looking for?

WITT: They'll be looking at any of the buildings that were still (UNINTELLIGIBLE) buildings to see if they suffered and damages, and they'll be looking at just the interior structures, the support beams and your foundations to make sure that they are OK because even though as deep as the earthquake was, you still may have some aftershocks. They may not be as severe because it was so deep or there may not be as many, but there still possibly could be some.

So, they will look very closely at the structure of a building to make sure that it would be safe or if something needs to be done. Also the overpasses, the governor is right. They'll have to inspect each one of those because you just can't tell by looking at them or driving over them.

WOODRUFF: And based on what you know, just quickly James Lee Witt, we assume the casualties -- we are told so far no deaths have been reported, maybe a dozen or two injuries. Would you expect that those numbers would not rise?

WITT: It is probably not likely. It could be a few more, but I think they told me it was 16 injured and four seriously. That is a miracle. I can tell you, that's just great because it could have been much worse.

WOODRUFF: James Lee Witt, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we thank you very much for joining us.

WITT: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you -- Bernie.

SHAW: Seattle is 35 miles away from where the quake was centered. We want to revisit Katharine Barrett on station there in Seattle -- Katharine?

BARRETT: Well, it certainly could have been worse. You may be able to see behind me, there's an elevated highway called the Alaska Way Viaduct, and it's been the focus of people's earthquake fears here for years that if the big one quote, unquote hit it would come tumbling down. Well, it stood, as well as most of the other bridges and highway structures here. Again, the infrastructure weathered this remarkably well given the strength of that quake.

As we say, this came as a shock to Seattleites because the area has experienced nothing like this in about 40 years. We've had volcanoes blowing up, if you remember Mount St. Helens, but no earthquake of this magnitude since the 1940s. So, again a shock to people.

I just received something from my insurance company a week ago advising people with older homes to make sure that the houses are bolted to the foundations. It's an area that is aware that it has an earthquake risk, but it's really not sort of at the front of people's minds because it hasn't happened in so long. This certainly will serve as a wake-up call to everybody in that regard.

But again, the damage at least appears superficial. Building facades have fallen, bricks fallen, windows broken, cracks in buildings. Certainly structural damage, but nothing of the scale of the San Francisco earthquake where you saw highways collapse and buckle onto each other. We've seen nothing like that here.

The city does have teams of building inspectors out throughout the downtown area looking at buildings to try and assess the damages. A lot of office workers have been sent home early. We're just heading into the afternoon rush-hour period. It's likely to be a doozy. Back to you.

SHAW: OK, thank you very much, Katharine Barrett.

CNN's earthquake coverage will continue, of course, in the next hour.

WOODRUFF: And we will have a one-hour special report on the quake tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Before we go, a reminder that our tribute to my colleague and friend, Bernie Shaw, which we had planned for today will air this Friday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. As we've noted, this is Bernie's last show at the anchor desk. I'm going to hold on. You're not leaving, after a remarkable 20 years here.

Bernie, I don't want to let you go. Are we are going to have you come back. You're going to retire after today, but you're going to come back on Friday at 5:30 and we're going send you off, at least with, how shall I say this, a little of the affection that we feel.

SHAW: Thank you. I'm going to get in a little early. I might be sitting in your chair when you come into the studio because of the breaking coverage and the special tribute on Friday.

I'm going to save what I had planned to say now for later. But since this is the last show, I have this for you.

WOODRUFF: A gavel.

SHAW: Yes, may you wield with conscience, longevity, and you're continued sensitivity to our profession and to the news and the people's right to know. I will miss sitting next to you.

WOODRUFF: Well, I will miss sitting next to you. I don't know what I'm going to do with this yet, but I know what I'm going to do right now, and that's give you a big hug.

SHAW: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: It's not going to be the same without you here.

SHAW: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: My friend, my partner. He'll be back at 5:30 on Friday for a more full and appropriate goodbye. Thanks very much.

SHAW: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Our coverage of the earthquake continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED RESIDENT: It come up out of nowhere. I couldn't think of nothing. My mind just went blank and I was just in a big whirl. I couldn't think. My friend was holding me and kind of...

UNIDENTIFIED RESIDENT: As soon as it started I just got her, you know, the two of us went right over in the doorway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Rumbling and tremors in the streets of Seattle, a powerful earthquake rocks the city and a vast area of the Pacific Northwest. From CNN in Atlanta, this is CNN's continuing coverage of the Seattle earthquakes. I'm Bill Hemmer live at the CNN Center.

The earthquake lasted a little more than 30 seconds, but for those who experienced it, the memory will probably last a lifetime. With a magnitude 6.8, the quake was felt across the northwest and then further north into Canada.

No deaths, amazingly, have been reported, but more than 20 people so far have been injured. The Washington Governor, Gary Locke, declared a state of emergency. In Seattle, meanwhile, people rushed into the streets as buildings swayed and shattered glass, bricks and other debris fell to the ground. Power was cut to 17,000 customers in Seattle alone.

No flights are being allowed into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In Olympia, Washington, about 10 miles from the quake's epicenter, the dome on the capital building has a visible crack. Some highways in the region also suffered major damage.

Katharine Barrett has been on the scene throughout the day in Seattle. She joins us now live with an update there from the Pacific Northwest. Katharine, what's happening now?

BARRETT: Well, Bill, I'm in one of the older areas of the city. The buildings around me are about 100 years old and many of them are the ones that have sustained superficial damage, their brick work crumbling, collapsing, falling into the street, their windows breaking. The skyscrapers, I spoke to a woman earlier today who was on the 42nd floor of a skyscraper in downtown. She said it swayed mightily but nothing happened.

Apparently it'll take a few days or weeks for building inspectors to actually look at the underpinnings of all these buildings and make sure that there wasn't structural damage that is not visible to the eye. But again, the larger buildings are mostly very new and they're meeting up to date earthquake standards. They are actually designed to sway in an earthquake instead of to stand rigid, which can actually cause greater damage in the end. But a lot of office workers in these buildings have been sent home or have chosen to go home early today to sort of reunite and check on their families as well as getting out of the buildings and allowing inspectors to check them out and give them a seal of approval before companies will let their workers come back to work.

HEMMER: Katharine, the fact that no fatalities have been reported just yet out of Seattle, and hopefully that situation will stay the way it is right now, what's been the reaction from people living in the area about that very fact?

BARRETT: Well, I think people are very much relieved that it wasn't worse. It was terrifying as it was going on. People said it was the scariest thing that had ever happened to them. Nothing like this has been seen here in almost 50 years so not within living memory of too many Seattleites. It is actually a very young city lately.

So again, people were terrified and relieved in the end that it wasn't much, much worse when everybody sort of looked around and stood up and in my own neighborhood we had numbers sort of ringing people's doorbells and asking if everyone was all right and generally a great sense of relief that things are not worse here.

Bill?

HEMMER: And, Katharine, also just from a more of a local perspective, living in the area yourself, a lot of times we think of earthquakes to be in southern California or some part of the golden state. How much are earthquakes talked about there in and around the Seattle area?

BARRETT: Well, interestingly, there's been a lot of press just in the last few months. There was a study released that showed that Seattle was ripe, was, in fact, overdue for a very large earthquake and that it was a very active seismic area. It's something growing up here I always knew, it was active seismically, but we just didn't have earthquakes with the frequency, the regularity that you have them in California.

You know it's an active geologic area by the volcanoes. We certainly had Mount Saint Helens blow up here 20 years ago, but we just haven't seen a major earthquake anything like this. There was one in the early 1960s and one in 1949. So it's just not something that registers at the front of people's consciousness.

Nonetheless, the building codes here as a result are very strict because we are in a known earthquake zone and I think those building codes have helped minimize some of the damage in this one.

HEMMER: And, Katharine, quickly here while we have you here, it appears to me just looking through the videotape, some of it live, some of it on tape, that a lot of the life there in Seattle has returned somewhat to normal. How does that strike you?

BARRETT: It does seem so. This morning when I came in shortly after the earthquake, there were sort of clusters of people standing just outside their office doorways smoking cigarettes, talking, huddled somewhat together and now people are sort of going back and forth and going about their business.

I spoke to one man shortly after noon who was actually trying to go back into his office building. But there are some office buildings that have closed for the day. Some people have gone home. Cell phone service here still isn't working normally and there are plenty of Seattleites who can't do business without their wireless phones. So it's not quite back to normal, but certainly the initial shock is wearing off a bit.

HEMMER: Just after three o'clock local time there now in Seattle. Katharine Barrett, good work. Katharine, thanks to you live in Seattle.

Now, President Bush was informed of the quake fairly soon after it did take place. Mr. Bush on the road today selling his budget proposals from last evening.

CNN's Major Garrett now with the President live in Omaha, Nebraska to bring us up to date on what's happening there. Major, hello to you.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Bill.

The President and his top advisers have been trying to assess the damage in Seattle all afternoon after first hearing of the earthquake upon their arrival here in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of three stops today on that effort to sell the Bush budget plan.

At the third stop today in Council Bluffs, Iowa just across the Nebraska-Iowa border, the President met with reporters and told them about the federal efforts to assess the damage and provide whatever help the federal government could.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We save and strengthen Social Security. We got money for Medicare. We pay down debt. And we set aside a trillion dollars over 10 years for contingencies. And some people say what do you mean by that? Well, there's emergencies. Right now, for example, there's, there is an earthquake in the State of Washington that may require emergency spending and let us hope that it doesn't create much damage nor take anybody's life. But it's a serious earthquake.

I just called the FEMA director to stay in touch with the emergency office to make sure that we're on top of it and we are.

The agricultural sector may need emergency spending or contingency spending as we transition to a free market world. There's some transition costs that we've been paying in the past. We may have to pay it again this year.

As we reconfigure our military we may require more spending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: After that session with residents of Council Bluffs, Iowa, the President met with reporters and told them that he has been in, tried to be in touch with Washington Governor Gary Locke, was unable to reach him, said he would try to contact him later on today.

There are really two areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can get involved. The first level is to provide emergency assistance to law enforcement and public service agencies who are trying to deal with the immediate damage. The second layer of assistance the federal government can provide is loans to anyone, either businesses or home owners, who've had their property severely damaged in the earthquake.

The President and his team are trying to assess which role the federal government can play most productively and as fast as they can.

Bill?

HEMMER: Major Garrett from Omaha. Major, thanks to you.

Now I want to go by telephone to Washington, the nation's capital, and bring in a gentleman by the name of David Garratt, a senior official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That is FEMA. Mr. Garratt, good evening to you.

DAVE GARRATT, FEMA: Good evening, Bill.

HEMMER: What are you hearing out of the Seattle area right now, sir?

GARRATT: We're hearing pretty much the same thing and information that you're hearing, Bill. A lot of damage, most of it moderate to limited. No fatalities at this point. Some injuries, in the neighborhood of 25. Very fortune, we think, that for a 6.8 to 7.0 the amount of damage is limited to what it appears to be at this point.

HEMMER: Yeah, Mr. Garrett, if you could tell us, what are local officials doing in the air right now in terms of going out, canvassing the situation and assessing the amount of damage there?

GARRATT: Well, that is exactly what the local officials are doing at this point and that will be ongoing for a while yet. They are sending out damage assessment teams to capture and identify the amount and types of damage that have taken place out there. They will be passing that information on to the states. The states will be relaying that information to us so that we can make decisions support -- support decisions based on that.

HEMMER: What can you say to residents now, sir?

GARRATT: One of the reports that we had from the University of Washington Seismological Lab was that because this was a deep earthquake they do not expect any more aftershocks. We believe that's pretty comforting and based on our discussions with the National Emergency Information Center, they have not tracked any aftershocks today.

HEMMER: How can you help as a federal organization, sir?

GARRATT: Well, we are prepared to help. In fact, within an hour after the earthquake we alerted two urban search and rescue task forces. We put our national or put the national airborne ops center on advisory. We have notified all of our logistics centers to stand by to support this. We've activated the emergency support team at headquarters and a number of our federal partners are here.

The region, which is located in Seattle, region 10, is on alert. They have placed their regional operations center on 24 hours. We're operating 24 hours, as well. They have an emergency response team that's ready and standing by to support the state if needed and we're ready to bring the full weight of federal assets to bear if they are needed.

In addition, the FEMA Director, Joe Allbaugh, will be leaving for Seattle this evening.

HEMMER: OK, sir, and quickly in the short time we have left here, in terms of damage reports, take it outside of Olympia and outside of Seattle. Where to the south and where to the north are you hearing damage reports?

GARRATT: We're hearing very little in terms of damage from Oregon. They have not even activated during our last briefing that we had their emergency operations center to operate 24 hours. So limited damage in Oregon. Relatively limited damage, what we are hearing at this point, outside of the Olympia and Seattle areas, and even within those areas, only up to moderate damage.

HEMMER: All right, David Garrett, senior official there with FEMA out of Washington. Keep in touch with us, will you please? We'll take the information any time you can get it. Again, David Garrett by telephone there in Washington.

Our coverage will continue live to CNN's Susan Reed, who is in Pasadena at Cal Tech. We'll check in live with her and our continuing coverage will continue after a quake time out here. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: We're going to show you live pictures courtesy of KING. The exact location of this particular machinery is unclear to us right now, but obviously workers have gone into this area trying to redirect water that is moving quite rapidly through this area. So as soon as we get more information again on that, courtesy of KING, KING Television there in Seattle, we'll pass it along to you.

Meanwhile, we want to go to southern California, Pasadena, Cal Tech and CNN's Susan Reed, who is monitoring things that are happening there now. Susan, what are they saying?

REED: Well, Bill, we're outside the headquarters, the southern California headquarters of the U.S. Geological Survey and they're telling us that the quake damage that we're seeing in Seattle is different than what we would see in the Los Angeles or southern California area because of the difference in the geology under the ground. And it's interesting because we had a 6.8 in Seattle and we had a 6.7 six years ago in North Ridge and we had much more widespread and significant damage.

And we are here now with one of the geophysicists of the U.S. Geological Survey, Ken Hudnut. Ken, why is the result so different in Seattle with a similar magnitude?

KENNETH HUDNUT, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: The biggest difference is the depth of this earthquake. The North Ridge earthquake occurred at 16, 18 kilometers depth, whereas this earthquake was at almost 50 kilometers depth, so about three times deeper. And so the waves have to come up through the earth's crust and that damps out a lot of the energy.

REED: So the ground doesn't shake as much?

HUDNUT: That's correct. It damps out a lot of the high frequency rapid shaking and so people in Seattle experienced slower rolling motion and that's because it was deep.

A similar effect happens when an earthquake occurs farther away. Similarly, it damps out that rapid shaking.

REED: So, does it have any kind of different structural damage where it only affects the older buildings and not the newer ones?

HUDNUT: Well, I think that longer period or slower motion like what they have just experienced in Seattle or from a more distant earthquake tends to affect the larger structures like high rise structures. The high frequency shaking that you get from a local or shallow earthquake affects much smaller structures, homes and smaller buildings, more. So that's just because big buildings have a slow frequency of vibration than suspension bridges and high rise buildings. So they'd be more affected by a deep or distant earthquake.

REED: And the affect of aftershocks is different, too, right?

HUDNUT: Well, in this case the earthquake is in the down going Juan de Fuca plate. And so earthquakes down in a slab like that that's going down tend to have fewer aftershocks than an earthquake up in the shallow earth's crust. So that's the difference there.

REED: Great. Ken Hudnut, USGS, thank you for speaking with us.

HUDNUT: My pleasure.

REED: And they also tell us that the faults that run from southern California to northern California, while they are in some way connected, they don't interface at all with the ones that are in the Pacific Northwest.

This is Susan Reid reporting live from Pasadena. Back to you.

HEMMER: All right, Susan, thank you.

We want to take our viewers now live to Little Rock, Arkansas. President Bush just arrived there. At this time just about to get off the Air Force One. You see him coming down the stairs now. KTHV, our affiliate there, bringing us these pictures here. And a short time ago Major Garrett informed us that the President did talk about the earthquake situation on his previous stop, that being Omaha, Nebraska.

It is possible the President will have more comments about the situation in Seattle and the surrounding Pacific Northwest region. If that, indeed, is the case, certainly we will have those comments for you live here on CNN.

In the meantime, though, as the President continues to work the crowd there, we should let you know that he was informed several hours ago, shortly after that quake did strike the Pacific Northwest, and the President informing us that he had been in touch with his surrogates over at FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to find out if, indeed, in his words, the situation, if they were on top of the situation. Indeed, he confirmed that a short time ago.

We'll bring you those comments if we get any from the President shortly there in Little Rock.

In the meantime, though, we want to bring in Grant Ringel. He's with Puget Sound Energy out of Washington. Sir, can you hear me OK?

GRANT RINGEL, PUGET SOUND ENERGY: Yes, I can.

HEMMER: Just about 3:30 local time where you are it was our understanding about 17,000 customers have been knocked out of power, lost electricity. Is that still where it stands now?

RINGEL: I believe those are the numbers for the Seattle Municipal Utility.

HEMMER: OK, then why don't you bring us up to date on the numbers you have? RINGEL: Puget Sound Energy had about 200,000 customers that were initially knocked out of power by the earthquake. By about 1:30 in the afternoon Pacific Time, about 80 percent of those customers were restored to power and right now we're down...

HEMMER: Sir, I apologize for the interruption. We want to take our viewers to the President in Arkansas now. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: ... took place in Seattle today. I send my prayers and express our country's concern for our fellow citizens in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia areas of the State of Washington. Those folks were affected by a major earthquake today. Our prayers are with those who were injured and their families and with the many thousands of people whose lives have been disrupted.

Thousands of people in Washington are without power or phone service. Airports are closed and many buildings have sustained structural damage. My administration stands ready to help in any way we can. I've asked the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Joe Allbaugh, to travel to Seattle to offer our assistance. He is on his way in a couple of hours and he'll be traveling with members of the Washington State's Congressional delegation.

I talked to Director Allbaugh. He told me he felt like Senator Murray would be going and they're reaching out to other members of the Congressional delegation to travel with him. We will work with state and local officials to provide whatever help we can to the people of the State of Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, will any of your budget cuts...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: We heard a short question thrown at the President there. Listening for a response, but apparently the microphones were cut there. But you heard the President's comments, sending out his condolences and his well wishes to the people who live in the Seattle, the Olympia and the Tacoma area. Also, Joe Allbaugh, who now heads up FEMA under the new Bush administration en route to the Pacific Northwest this evening.

We were talking earlier, though, with Grant Ringel from Puget Sound Energy. Sir, are you still with us by telephone?

RINGEL: Yes, I am.

HEMMER: You were describing about 200,000 people initially under your current company had lost power. You said about 80 percent had that back as of two hours ago. From here, pick up your point, please.

RINGEL: Right, we're down under 9,000 without power now and we anticipate most, if not all of those customers, will be on by later this afternoon. HEMMER: And the 9,000 people to whom you are speaking, is that in the Seattle area, Olympia or where, sir?

RINGEL: It's primarily in the Olympia area.

HEMMER: OK. And what was the result of the power loss? Was it lines being downed, lines cut?

RINGEL: No, fortunately our system actually suffered very little damage. The earthquake itself caused breakers in our substations to trip and it was a matter of going out and doing line inspections to make sure there was no damage and then closing the breakers back in to restore power.

HEMMER: OK. Any difficulties that you may have experienced with that power outage in the time it was out, sir?

RINGEL: No. We were very fortunate there was so little damage and that has allowed us to restore the power very quickly.

HEMMER: You're talking as if you're a man who feels quite fortunate.

RINGEL: We were very fortunate. The whole area was very fortunate today.

HEMMER: How are the people not only where you work but the people in the are responding to this, sir?

RINGEL: They seem to be responding very well. The emergency agencies went into action very quickly and our communications channels, despite the difficulties with the phones and other communications mechanisms, really went into gear very quickly.

HEMMER: And again, sir, when do you believe the remaining 9,000 will have their power fully established?

RINGEL: We should by, in the next two or three hours have almost everyone back on.

HEMMER: So they won't spend the night in darkness then, will they?

RINGEL: We do not anticipate that will happen.

HEMMER: Best of luck, OK, to you.

RINGEL: Thank you very much.

HEMMER: All right, Grant Ringel, Puget Sound Energy there in the State of Washington. We will get a quake time out here. Back with more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Well, to remind our viewers, we'll see you in about three and a half hours time, a one hour special later tonight, 10 o'clock Eastern, seven on the west coast on the situation that's happening in the Pacific Northwest. Hope to have you then.

In the meantime, though, Stuart Varney and Willow Bay follow next with CNN's MONEYLINE. Again, continuing coverage of what's happening in the Pacific Northwest as we leave you now with a live picture of the Space Needle in downtown Seattle. Our coverage continues here on CNN.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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