THE MEMO BLOG
News, discussion and information about the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Lila Nordstrom: Advocate for Affordable Health Care for Former Students
On Sept. 11, 2001, Lila Nordstrom was a senior attending class on the top floor of Stuyvesant High School, just blocks away from the World Trade Center. She felt the building shake and witnessed the explosion when hijacked Flight 11 was flown into the North Tower.
Her teacher, who had been there during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, continued teaching through the collapse of the South Tower. Nordstrom left Stuyvesant just as the North Tower began to collapse and walked about ten miles into Queens, spending the night at a classmate’s house, before returning home the next day.
In the weeks after the attack, initial environmental reports led many to believe the air around Ground Zero was safe. After a partial cleaning, Stuyvesant High School reopened on Oct. 9, 2001. However, for Nordstrom and many other students, sinus and respiratory issues became common.
It would take years before exposures to the conditions near Ground Zero would be linked to health conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and rare cancers — conditions that would become expensive and difficult to treat. Witnessing such a devastating event and navigating the aftermath also impacted students’ mental health.