Saturday, July 08, 2006

Late 2001

In the later part of 2001, living in lower Manhattan was like living in a war zone. Since I was on a high floor there was no way to avoid the smell that would always be there, everytime I went out the burning smell was on the streets. I was not working, not many people were, so there was time to walk around and see what was going on - almost everything was closed, when I would look down the street at what they were now calling 'ground zero' all I saw was fire. It was very hard to live day to day under those conditions. Alot of the streets were opened and there was no place to get away from the miserable reality of life there.
I had heard that aid was being given if you applied, I resisted this for a few months then out of boredom really I got on the line at the old Emigrant Bank, on chambers, where they were doing the interviews. I thought, I'll never get any money, but again what the hell, why not try. The line was long but it was moving well and they seemed to have it well organized. It was not long before I was inside, they had long tables with staff interviewing people. I had brought what documentation I thought I would need to show residency etc. I was interviewed in a timely fashion and with great compassion, there where clergy walking around in case people needed to talk, the whole operation was in itself a kind of stunning example of compassion and caring by The September 11 Fund - Safe Horizon. I was really moved by the whole environment, it was a totally unique situation of people helping people - I had never experienced anything like this, I did'nt think this kind of thing could happen - it was dreamlike and moving. Aid was set according to where you lived in the 4 zones, zone 1 being the closest to the WTC, I lived in zone 3. To my surprise I left with a check that very day for $1500 and another $2500 a few weeks later in the mail. In addition to that they were allowing people to see psychologists free of charge and because of feelings of depression I used this option as well, I was also somehow able to get one year of free health insurance. All in all I was grateful by all of this because I had not worked in 6 months - and they were really trying to help people in those 4 zones - in this life altering experience we were all going made it a little easier to know someone out there cared, they may never care again but in this time of loneliness and need and shock, they were there for us.

to be continued


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