Washington Technology home > 10/08/01 issue
Giuliani Improvises After Command Center Gets Hit
York Mayor Rudy Giuliani got a lot of ribbing when, in 1998, he ordered
the construction of a $15 million emergency command center from which
he could direct recovery efforts from possible terrorist attacks on the
The press dubbed it “the bunker,” and Giuliani’s
political enemies poked fun at his desire to guard the city against
bombings or chemical or biological attack.
Giuliani appears prescient today, but what he
couldn’t foresee was that the location he picked for the bunker — 7
World Trade Center — would become ground zero for the Sept. 11 attack
on the complex.
The 47-story building in which the command center
was located is now part of the rubble that includes the World Trade
On the morning of Sept. 11, the mayor rushed to his
command center shortly after the attack, but was forced to flee one
location after another when the towers and adjacent buildings began
collapsing, according to the New York Times.
Despite the scope of the catastrophe, city
employees were able to establish a fully functioning, alternative
emergency management command center within three days of the
catastrophe. The leadership Giuliani has shown in the crisis, coupled
with the flexibility of city workers, shows it is possible to overcome
almost any disaster, said Charles Gerhards, Pennsylvania’s chief
Gerhards said “Your planning can’t be perfect, but
then that is where leadership and judgment come in,” he said, referring
to the resilience of Giuliani and New York City employees who rebuilt
the mayor’s command center.
“You have the plan, but then you have to modify
it,” he said. “Government officials need to be prepared for many
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