Rebuilding Our Community Post-9/11: Beyond Ground Zero TIMELINE
Immediately following September 11, 2001 a coalition of community and advocacy groups came together to form Beyond Ground Zero. BGZ conducts door-to-door visits to assist low-income, largely immigrant residents with food, water, access to phones, and other necessities. BGZ begins providing relief assistance for residents inside and outside boundaries of federal relief assistance programs.
2002: BGZ begins large-scale education and organizing work
• May: Over 2,000 low-income workers from Lower Manhattan gather for a Town Hall meeting in Chinatown to demand government and private relief agencies to change their exclusionary guidelines and be accountable to their health needs. Workers also voice the need for immediate health benefits and raise serious concern about the long-term effects of the toxic air.
• June: More than 3,000 workers and residents march from Lower East Side to Foley Square and demonstrate across from FEMA office.
• July: A caravan of buses with 1,000 low-income workers travels to D.C. to march in front of the White House demanding attention to their health needs. Within days after the march, the government announces a citywide program to provide air conditioners and purifiers.
• September: BGZ releases Ripple Effect, a report documenting the on going economic and mental health impacts of 9/11 on low-income and immigrant workers and residents and exposing the systemic barriers to accessing disaster assistance.
• BGZ conducts community outreach uninsured and underinsured residents and workers not covered by disaster assistance who are experiencing health problems; BGZ assists over 2,000 displaced workers to access various health insurance benefits, including health benefits and job training under the September 11th Fund relief program.
• BGZ begins planning with Doctors Barry Bateman and Joan Reibman at Bellevue Hospital to serve 9/11-affected residents and workers through a free clinic.
• September: Over 1,300 low-income residents protest rebuilding efforts that prioritize luxury real estate development and ignore the mounting 9-11 health crisis in Lower Manhattan.
• BGZ initiates a groundbreaking pilot program with Bellevue Hospital as the only study and treatment program that screens and provides immediate treatment to low-income Lower Manhattan residents affected by 9/11. Without public or private funding, BGZ member organizations conduct community outreach, screening and coordination of appointments. Hundreds of sick, low-income residents and workers receive initial consultations as BGZ and Bellevue struggle to cope with how to treat vast numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients.
• Bellevue begins treating symptomatic 9/11-affected community members, in cooperation with BGZ organizers, who escort and monitor the patients.
• June: BGZ launches the 9-11 Community Health Initiative, a formal expansion of the pilot program, after funding is secured from the American Red Cross 9-11 Disaster Relief Program. Local outreach includes door-to-door outreach, distribution of flyers on the street and through mailings.
• August: Expansion of 9-11 Community Health Initiative provides for 25 appointments per week and screening and treatment of respiratory, skin, stomach and mental health problems resulting from 9-11.
• BGZ develops its program as a model of a community-based partnership to reach underserved communities without access to medical treatment. Word of mouth spreads and a large backlog begins to grow as demand quickly outstrips available appointments.
• December: BGZ’s community outreach identifies several Ground Zero cleanup workers, mostly immigrant day laborers experiencing severe health problems, largely gone untreated. BGZ helps them to enroll in the clinic and secure financial aid through Red Cross Additional Assistance Program.
• June: BGZ/Bellevue health treatment program reaches a backlog of 600 people waiting for appointments.
• September: BGZ organizes a press conference and rally bringing together low-income residents and workers and Ground Zero clean-up laborers together to demand long-term treatment for 9-11 related health problems. BGZ participates in a town hall meeting, and a Congressional hearing to stress the need for action, not promises for the future. BGZ works with Congress Member Jerrold Nadler to propose legislation augmenting the public Medicaid system to address the needs for all whose health has been adversely affected by the WTC disaster. As a result of the successful community partnership, NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg announces a $16 million, 5-year expansion of the BGZ/Bellevue health treatment program.
• Further expansion of the 9-11 Community Health Initiative begins to tackle the backlog of approximately 1000 residents and workers who are waiting for appointments.
• BGZ begins assisting hundreds of clean-up workers, office workers, hotel employees and others working in Lower Manhattan after 9-11 to register for the Workers’ Compensation 9-11 special registration.
• October: BGZ and Bellevue are invited to present the joint community-medical partnership for improving public health at the 5th annual International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
• January: The BGZ/Bellevue health treatment program completes screening and treatment of over 1000 residents and workers.
• May: BGZ and Bellevue begin assisting Ground Zero clean-up workers to apply for medical care and economic assistance through the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
• June: BGZ organizes two busloads of affected workers and residents to travel to Washington DC to demand an apology from former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman and President Bush for the health and economic crises as a result of the EPA's lie that the air was safe. At a press conference outside the federal building where Whitman testified before Congress about her role in the 9/11 health crisis. Ground Zero clean-up and downtown workers and residents called on the federal government to fund an accessible, high-quailty long-term medical treatment and study for 9/11 affected workers and residents and provide compensation or health insurance for all affected.
• July: BGZ continues to see thousands of workers suffering serious, life altering health problems such as chronic respiratory problems, skin, eye, and neurological problems, and cancers - many of whom face long delays in recieving wokers compensation. In response to Governor Spitzer's extension of the deadline to register for workers compensation, BGZ calls on the Governor to adopt an expedited procedure with interim benefits and other reforms to ensure that all workers hurt by 9/11 receive compensation immediately.
• September: BGZ works with other Lower Manhattan groups to organize a vigil to commemorate those who lost their lives on and after 9/11, but also bring together the workers and residents suffering devastating health effects due to exposure to the toxic air. Recognizing the continuing and evolving health needs of New Yorkers, Mayor Bloomberg announces a $100 million expansion of the Bellevue WTC health clinic to Gouverneur and Elmhurst Hospitals. BGZ continues to coordinate with HHC and Bellevue to ensure that the community-based public health model it developed is preserved as the program expands.