Like thousands of others in Lower Manhattan, Gloria Knight fled for her life on Sept. 11, escaping fumes and fire.
She was ordered out of the subway by police officers, and ran across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn. It was on the bridge that she collapsed with a heart attack and stroke.
But because Knight, then 71, was technically outside of Manhattan when she took ill, she was ineligible for coverage from the Zadroga Act, a federal reimbursement fund for Sept. 11 survivors.
Just last week, the Zadroga Act zone — the area where survivors are eligible for monetary compensation if they missed work due to a 9/11-related injury or illness — was expanded from Reade Street up to Canal Street. And anyone who lives or works below Houston Street is eligible for free health care for Sept. 11-related illnesses.
But for people like Knight, who died in 2004 of complications following the stroke, the expanded boundaries mean nothing. The Manhattan Bridge falls outside the zone.
“Her face was covered in smoke and ash and sweat,” said Michael Weinstock, Knight’s attorney.
“To say that she wasn’t in the zone of danger is just flat-out offensive,”he added.
Weinstock said he tried to get Knight’s skyrocketing medical bills covered before she died, but was rejected.
Good health: Like dust in the wind?
In Lillian Bermudez’s apartment on Delancey Street, dust from the attacks wafted through open windows. In October 2001, her son Mitchelin, then 12, developed asthma and nearly died from an attack.
Because Bermudez, 57, lives south of Houston, she qualifies for free health care for her son. However, because she lives north of Canal Street, she is ineligible to apply for extra help from the monetary fund.
“They’re talking about ‘The air couldn’t have come all this way, all that dust couldn’t have been getting this way,’” said Bermudez. “It gets me angry because my son almost died on me and they’re saying that nothing happened.”
“Her health didn’t start deteriorating until that day on the bridge with all the soot and everything. If she wasn’t there, how did she get the soot and everything on her?” Annette Shakeema Small, Gloria Knight’s granddaughter
“There is no way that that dust cloud, that really dense, dark dust cloud, stopped at Reade Street.” Kimberly Flynn, 9/11 Environmental Action director
“The effected area is much wider than the zone of compensation that they’re talking about. It’s terrible.” Ann Warner Arlen, a Sullivan Street resident who suffers breathing problems but is not eligible to apply for the compensation fund because she is north of Canal Street