ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state has reopened the window for workers and volunteers seeking lost wages and medical benefits from their involvement in the rescue, recovery and cleanup at the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
A law signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the attacks that collapsed the twin towers in Manhattan, extends the claims filing deadline until Sept. 11, 2018. It lapsed two years ago.
"We still feel the pain and the loss like it was yesterday, and the thousands of brave men and women who stepped up in our darkest hour are still grappling with the aftereffects," Cuomo said at the signing in Manhattan.
The law also authorizes new claims for related injuries and illnesses since the attacks through this year's anniversary for workers' compensation, disability and accidental death benefits that were disallowed because of late filing.
"It's going to help a lot of people who are in harm's way right now," said Sal Turturici, who attended the bill signing in a wheelchair. "They're on the end of losing their benefits because they're running out of time or running out of any grants or any kind of time to get to extend their pay, so they're falling off the payroll."
His wife, a Fire Department of New York paramedic like her husband, said he was diagnosed Oct. 4 with terminal cancer. Wendi Turturici said Cuomo has given her hope that she can take care of their three young children and give her husband peace.
Thousands of people who aided in the rescue and recovery effort were diagnosed with respiratory ailments and other health problems in the years after the attacks. Cancer has remained the biggest fear for people exposed to the gritty soot at the site.