NEW YORK — New York City offered $1 billion in bonds for sale Monday to start paying for the aftermath of a terrorist attack Mayor Rudolph Giuliani branded “maniacal” during an address to the United Nations.
The short-term bond offering will pay for such things as debris removal and unemployment insurance for workers who have been put out of work by the World Trade Center collapse.
In a preliminary estimate last week, Senate aides said it would cost about $39 billion to clean up from the Sept. 11 attack and rebuild the city. Washington has pledged at least $20 billion.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, following a tour Monday of the trade center ruins with 108 other members of Congress, said no one can know how much the recovery effort will cost. “We don’t know if that’s the iceberg or the tip of the iceberg,” Hastert said.
House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, also on Monday’s tour, called the damage “incomprehensible.”
“It is the face of evil, and it’s hard to understand how people can hate other people as much as obviously has happened here,” he said.
As a drizzle fell in Central Park, 2,500 mourners gathered under tents at a private memorial for employees of Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond firm that lost about 700 employees at the trade center.
They clutched each other and wept as five people who lost their spouses addressed the crowd, along with the mayor and the firm’s chief executive, Howard Lutnick. Lutnick’s brother, Gary, was lost in the attack.
“In these past three weeks, we have felt more pain and sadness than I think collectively any of us had ever thought we could bear,” Lutnick said. “And I know that I speak for everyone here when I say we miss — oh boy, do we miss — our friends and family.”
Fire Department Chaplain Alfred Thompson said more bodies have been discovered in the past 2 1/2 days than in the previous 10. The movement of some larger beams in the wreckage has helped workers locate remains, he said.
“We’re finding a lot of stuff in there. ... It’s not a happy sight,” said construction worker John Yannucci.
He said crews were hampered by hot spots in the still-smoking ruins.
As of Monday, city officials said 5,219 people were missing in the terrorist attack, while 344 were confirmed dead and 289 dead were identified.
Giuliani said at the United Nations that the trade center was targeted because of the diversity of the city’s population and the openness of American society. Citizens of 80 nations are among the presumed victims, he said.
“On one side is democracy, the rule of law; on the other is tyranny, arbitrary execution and mass murder,” Giuliani said. “We’re right and they’re wrong. It’s as simple as that.”
He said the terrorists’ reasons were “insane, maniacal.”
Giuliani said it would be a “very nice, symbolic gesture” for people to buy bonds in his city’s time of need.
Investors buying the city’s bonds face low risk because New York has been guaranteed federal relief money, said Robert Kurtter, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.
“They’ll sell like hot cakes,” said Jay F. Donnaruma, an investment analyst with Paine Webber.
Since the one-year bonds are exempt from city, state and federal taxes, their yield will be comparable to or better than certificates of deposits available through banks, Donnaruma said.
On Wednesday, President Bush will make his second trip to New York since Sept. 11. He has been concerned about the effects of the attack on children and plans to visit a school, spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Joe Allbaugh, said he would also visit the city to address “quite a few problems” with the cleanup effort. He did not explain what they were.
“This is going to take months — it’s going to take three to four months just to get to the ground level,” Allbaugh said. “This is going to be better than a year to resolve this debris problem at the site.”
Gov. George Pataki said he would dispatch more than 300 National Guardsmen to New York state airports starting Friday. Bush last week called on all states to use the Guard to provide additional security at airports.
Students at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, about four blocks from the trade center, returned to their school for the first time since Sept. 11. The college was not heavily damaged but had been taken over by as many as 2,000 rescue workers.
Rush-hour traffic was moderate Monday morning as commuters entering Manhattan faced the same restrictions that were tested Thursday and Friday. Mandatory carpooling was in effect at bridges and tunnels heading into lower and midtown Manhattan from 6 a.m. to noon.
Trains and buses were crowded, but not unusually so, city transit spokesman Al O’Leary said.