NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — First responders who were seriously hurt in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks appeared before a congressional committee in Washington on Thursday.
Members of the FDNY and NYPD — many of them sick with various cancers — asked lawmakers to extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.
“Being here today, I start seeing guys and I’m hearing their stories and I didn’t even know they were sick and that’s why they’re here,” retired FDNY battalion chief Robert Norcross told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes. “They just found out last year or a year and a half ago and someone else will pop up next month.”
You couldn’t help but be moved by the stories of first responders like NYPD Officer David Hawley, who got a rare throat cancer from working at ground zero and said he wouldn’t have survived without the federal program, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
He offered a blunt assessment about what would happen if Congress doesn’t renew it.
“People are going to die, the men and women that are sick that are being taken care of now. I’ve only been cancer-free a little over a year,” Hawley said. “To end this program, people are going to die.”
Also pleading to lawmakers was retired NYPD detective Barbara Burnette, who has a laundry list of ailments from working on the toxic pile.
“I spent weeks at the World Trade Center site, shoveling, clearing away debris, searching for survivors and later sifting for body parts of the dead,” Burnette said.
An estimated 1,000 New York City firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer since 9/11, including Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Riley.
“That was the hardest day of my entire life when I found out and even harder when I had to tell my family,” he told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
“We have lost now, post-9/11, 111 firefighters and fire officers to line-of-duty illness as a result of 9/11,” Deputy Chief Richard Alles told CBS2. “Fifteen-hundred members have been put out on disability as a result of their illnesses due to 9/11. We have 1,035 fire officers and firefighters that have been diagnosed with serious cancer.”