My Strange Experience While Working for NYC’s Department of Health in Immediate Aftermath of 9/11…

The following correspondence originally took place upon the Facebook wall of my friend, Kala Z, after he shared a photo from here, and I was subsequently tagged within his comments section…

Kala Z.: ….But Christine Todd Whitman (former governor of New Jersey and former head of the EPA) said the air at Ground Zero was safe……

Five and a half years ago, Jon Stewart hosted a panel on The Daily Show with four 9/11 first responders to discuss the health impacts they face and why the Senate should pass the Zadroga Act. The panel reconvened on Monday to press for reauthorization of the Zadroga Act now that it has lapsed - and of the four 9/11 first responders on the panel, two were now too ill to participate and one has passed away...

Five and a half years ago, Jon Stewart hosted a panel on The Daily Show with four 9/11 first responders to discuss the health impacts they face and why the Senate should pass the Zadroga Act. The panel reconvened on Monday to press for reauthorization of the Zadroga Act now that it has lapsed – and of the four 9/11 first responders on the panel, two were now too ill to participate and one has passed away…

Rebekah P.: Rayn was there. Sent by the Health Dept. with a group of children (but no masks) to hand out pamphlets.

Rayn: Not exactly, Rebekah… In reality, I worked for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, at 2 Lafayette St., located about six blocks from the former WTC, and at that particular time, as supervisor of the Youth Employment program, my summer group of high schoolers had already completed their jobs, and were no longer employed under me, while the fall group hadn’t yet been assigned.

When I arrived to work on September 12, 2001, the air was smoke-filled, and smelled and tasted like a nauseating, headache-inducing mixture of burning plastic, metal, chemicals, and what I imagined to likely be cremated human remains. Instantly suspicious of the air quality upon exiting the City Hall – Brooklyn Bridge subway station, I kept my hand over my nose, and didn’t dare open my mouth – though the putrid cocktail of death was inescapable. My branch supervisor, Jessica Morris, who was the director of Community Relations, was waiting at the entrance of my building, and when I walked up to her, and waved, she smiled, saying she was glad I showed up, then informed me that my direct supervisor wouldn’t be at work, anytime soon. She then asked me if I wanted to accompany her to Ground Zero to hand out masks to the workers, there. I took one look at the masks she was holding, saw that they were made of mere paper, then looked back at her, confused, and laughed, thinking that she was either joking, or maybe insane (she was late into her pregnancy with twins, at the time). I wanted to ask her, “do you smell what I smell?,” but instead, I quietly shook my head, while saying, “no, I don’t think I want to do that.” In reply, she told me that there would be no other work for me until at least October. I told her that I understood, and happily went right back home, where I wasn’t called back to my job until around mid-October. When I returned, the rotten smell was still lingering in the air! I have never questioned my decision not to enter Ground Zero to hand out paper masks, even once, since that day…

Kala Z.: Glad you didn’t stick around to be poisoned for no reason. You would have so many health issues as a result.

Kala Z.: Love your commentary on gun control, Rayn!

Rebekah P.: Love your commentary on air quality post 9-11. It was to be expected that you’d remember the details of your experience better than I, that’s why I tagged u 🙂 You were there. Several ppl I know were scheduled to be passing thru the towers around the time the 1st alleged “plane” hit. Then, there was the repeating images of this same footage everywhere, no escaping this, to ensure we’d believe our own lying eyes.

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(All original portions of this work, by Rayn Kleipe, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, while all redistributed links, images, sounds, videos, and writings are protected under 17 U.S.C. § 107: Fair Use, or under Public Domain)

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