HAMPSTEAD, NC (WECT) – The fate of thousands of families affected by 9/11 lie in the hands of Republican Senators who are deciding whether or not to sign the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The bill would give long-term health care to those who became ill after working on the site, and it would also create a fund for their survivors.
There are tens of thousands of people listed on the World Trade Center Health Registry, almost 600 of them now live in North Carolina. Richard Dambakly, of Hampstead, is one of them.
He and hundreds of others helped during the tragic events that took place at the World Trade Center September 11. Now, they're asking the senate to help them with the cost of becoming healthy again.
"The judge says, 'We're going to help out everyone at Ground Zero,'" Dambakly explained. "But leave us out? That's not helping anyone. I got cancer from there."
Dambakly has been fighting lymphoma and law makers for nearly a decade. He watched the planes hit the towers and worked 16-hour days in the debris for Verizon. Then, within months, he watched his health deteriorate.
"It felt like my chest was just going to blow up," said Dambakly. "First thing out of my mind is, 'I got sick from all the debris I was breathing.'"
A judge denied Dambakly medical compensation, along with about 300 others, in a class action law suit because they missed the filing deadline by 14 days.
"I have five children if I happen to die tomorrow with cancer what happens to them?" Dambakly questioned. "They suffer and I'm just a story."
The last chapter of Richard's medical story is in the hands of the Senate. Opposition to the bill comes from argument over how to pay for it. It'll cost $7.4 billion over years to try to help people like Dambakly get their health and their life back on track.