Manhattan and Brooklyn Community Meetings To Be Held On Controversial Implementation of Zadroga 9/11 Victims Compensation Legislation — Battery Park City, Chinatown, Northwest Brooklyn
"Not all of the neighborhoods identified in the federal Zadroga Act as impacted communities may actually be included in the final area eligible for compensation, and people need to know that and be heard."
NEW YORK, NY – With an early August deadline for community input fast approaching, Advocates for Justice, a non-profit public interest law firm, will be holding three community meetings during the next 10 days in Manhattan and Brooklyn to share information about The Zadroga 9/11 Victims Compensation Act with residents of communities impacted by the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.
These meetings will take place in Battery Park City, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in Chinatown at the Lin Sing Association, and in northwest Brooklyn at Brooklyn's Borough Hall. Each meeting will provide an update regarding the potential eligibility of neighborhood residents to receive free medical treatment or financial compensation as a result of harm endured on or within six months after 9/11.
- Wed, July 20, 6-7:30 pm: Museum of Jewish Heritage, Battery Park City
- Sat, July 23, Noon-1 pm: Lin Sing Association, Chinatown
- Tue, July 26, 4:30-6 pm: Borough Hall, Brooklyn
There will be short presentations from panelists, with most of the time reserved for questions from meeting attendees. One panelist at the first meeting will be attorney Sean P. Riordan, who has been lead counsel to The FealGood Foundation, a first-responder organization that led the lobbying effort for the Zadroga bill. Mr. Riordan is familiar with recent developments with the ever-changing legal environment surrounding the administration of the Zadroga Bill.
"There is an active discussion regarding the status of the neighborhoods that suffered as a result of 9/11 and the medical conditions that need to be addressed," said Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq., President of Advocates for Justice. "Not all of the neighborhoods identified in the federal Zadroga Act as impacted communities may actually be included in the final area eligible for compensation, and people need to know that and be heard."
Schwartz said that the Special Master for the Victims Compensation Fund, Sheila Birnbaum, has expressed a desire to better understand the full impact of 9/11 on all impacted communities. "Special Master Birnbaum has expressed her interest in hearing more from the people, and we want to share information and encourage everyone to share with her as well," he said.
The Special Master, along with local elected officials and community leaders, have been invited to attend each meeting. Birnbaum has set August 5th as the deadline for community input on various issues pertaining to the Zadroga Act.
"Many community residents are reluctant to step forward to seek assistance from the government because they feel that the first responders deserve all the help that's out there," said Chris Owens, Executive Director of Advocates for Justice and a resident of Brooklyn.
"In this case, however, both first responders and community residents are entitled to receive assistance and no one should feel guilty or self-conscious about declaring their need for help. People living, working and attending school in Lower Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn suffered injuries on 9/11 or as a result of the post-9/11 fires and they may be entitled to the compensation that Congress has provided."
Advocates for Justice wants community residents to be aware that they may be eligible for free medical care and possibly compensation if they lived, worked, or attended school in Lower Manhattan or in certain areas of northwest Brooklyn, if they commuted to Lower Manhattan during 9/11 or immediately thereafter, if they helped with the clean up or removed debris after 9/11, or if they had a family member pass away as a result of 9/11-related illness.
"We are making phone calls and giving out flyers to get people talking to each other and to come out to learn more," said Owens.
Some symptoms of 9/11-related illnesses may include coughing, wheezing , sinus congestion, stomach problems, amongst others. Some health challenges may be 9/11-related and the person would not be aware of it. Accordingly, these community meetings will emphasize the need for people with questions to get a full medical review with their doctors and with Bellevue Hospital's Center of Excellence for 9/11-related illnesses. Medical records pertaining to all doctor visits or issues since 9/11 should be found and reviewed.
"Given what is at stake for someone in need of help, we are surprised and saddened that there have not been more community-oriented efforts on the part of the City of New York to make people aware of the Zadroga legislation and the possible benefits," said Mr. Schwartz. "We see these meetings as the beginning of a broader, grass-roots effort to educate the impacted communities."