NEW YORK — For months now, Joel Rodriguez Marrero has been thinking about workers like him, the doormen who staffed the residential and office buildings near the World Trade Center at the time of the 2001 attacks.
What You Need To Know
- Advocates hope as many building workers who were exposed to the toxic site register for the fund before the July 29 deadline
- Former doorman Joel Rodriguez Marrero says he's been reaching out to old coworkers to make sure they're aware
- People certified by the World Trade Center Health Program for a 9/11 related physical illness before July 29, 2019 are among those impacted by the deadline
"I've been reaching out to my coworkers and friends that worked in the area especially my union members who were there," said Marrero.
He always has the same questions; how's your health? And have you registered for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?
"When the buildings did come down, myself and my staff were directly across the streets so we were there for everything," said Marrero. "We were just using bandanas while we were literally across the street."
He's joining the advocates who are racing against time to get as many building workers who were exposed to the toxic site to register for the fund before a crucial July 29 deadline.
"For us employees who worked around the area, there's thousands of us," said Marrero.
The fund is meant to benefit people who have been affected by a September 11th related illness and offer financial help to anyone who gets sick in the future. But, raising awareness beyond the first responder community has been a challenge.
"It's the survivor population that we're most concerned about because only eight percent have registered for the victim compensation fund," said Lee London, an attorney with Barasch & McGarry Law Firm which represents many in the 9/11 survivor community.
London explains that this week's deadline doesn't apply to everyone, but includes people who were certified by the World Trade Center Health Program for a 9/11 related physical illness before July 29, 2019.
"It also impacts anybody who passed away from a 9/11 related condition longer than two years ago. So getting the word out to anyone that worked in the zone during that time and then could have moved away got diagnosed with a horrible severe cancer and passed away from that cancer, [that] their families only have two years from date of death to file," said London.
Marrero was asked to return to work just days after the attacks and keeps pictures as a reminder of what he and everyone else there was exposed to.
"I'm pretty healthy right now as far as from what I know," said Marrero. "From what I inhaled, it's definitely a concern you just never know."