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New York, September 11, 2001. Where are they?
It has been already 13 years since the Terrorist Attacks of September 11 and till today little has been spoken of the estimated 200 disabled people that under the Emergency Regulations, were doomed at the Twin Towers’ Safe Rooms in the World Trade Center.
As the Code specified, in case of emergency, disabled people are forced to wait in “Fire Proof Rooms” while the rescuers arrive to them. Under those extremely circumstances lived during the attacks on September 11, no one, but really a few, took the inactive to help their fellow brothers and sisters out of the building, not even after while seeing the first tower coming down.
But this is not to critize the human condition during extreme circumstance as the ones lived during the attacks on the Twin Towers, but rather as a protest to our Politicians and Members of the Media that still being quiet after for so long, censoring the raw reality of the Disabled Community in America and our lack of interest in fully understand their needs and their limitations. I think is time to really talk about it.
The day after Sept 11, my wife (she has spina bifid a and uses a wheelchair) and I read hundreds of posts and blogs online of terrible accounts of people being trapped at the doors of the emergency stairs completly unable to used them, while the able majority, passed by ignoring them without any regards, not even felling any guilt about it. It was all over the internet. But not on the news.
Till today, we don’t know exactly how many disabled people perished that day, beside the only 6 accounts Highly published on the news, but never a full account of the real facts.
No matter how painful could it be, how raw or insensible it was, in an Ultra Political Correct Society. We need to confront our Ghosts, and to realize that our silence makes this matter worst. We can forget that 20% of the US population is Legally Disable, 17% world wide. And if we failed them then, is a big chance we may fail them once again, and that is unacceptable.
We need to deal with it, we can’t block the Sun with a thumb. It’s time to become conscious about it, to fix our our perception towards Disabled people, for the good of ourselves and our society.
Please, forgive me if my writing isn’t the best, and the design is to raw. But it affect me directly, and more than 60 million people in the US.
Thank you for being there,
One man’s final image as he left the 80th floor and made it to safety was that of a room full of people using wheelchairs and walkers waiting to be rescued by the firefighters who were coming up the stairs. They all perished as the building collapsed shortly after.
“The Day the World Changed,” by Angela Miele Melledy, ABLE, October 2001.
Two wheelchair users escaped from the World Trade Center Disaster, using evacuation chairs with inexperienced helpers, because they broke the rules and left before being found by rescue workers. Most who did what they were expected to do, that is, wait to be rescued, died, according to June Kailes.
“Evacuation Preparedness: Taking Responsibility For Your Safety –
A Guide For People With Disabilities and Other Activity Limitations,” 2002.