No business today.
I'm not going to wave the flag. There are plenty of people to do that. Many
for the right reasons, too many more for reasons I find distasteful.
Instead, I want to tell you a little about the less publicised effects of
9/11, then a little story, and what you can do to help some of the surviving
victims. People who continue to be victimised, this time by their fellow
We all remember the horror of the explosions. We've seen them replayed often
enough: on TV and in our dreams; in the fears of our children, and in the
faces of friends who lost loved ones to the attack.
I was out early with a friend that day, and we stopped at a store that had
the news on. We didn't know anything was going on. We were just shopping.
We watched the second plane hit.
We watched the towers collapse. Those few seconds seemed like eternity.
Could this be real?
I watched the shock in her face, the utter disbelief that humans could do
such a thing. I watched the way it haunted her for months after.
It still does. But she's healing.
For the past year, I've watched my friends struggle with the sorrow and the
rage and the confusion. People of justice, screaming for revenge. Hardened
soldiers, pleading for restraint. Swapping roles, not knowing which way is
Victims, too. But they're healing.
They're not the people whose story needs told today.
Do you remember the flames? The dust, the smoke, and the debris?
That was tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of TONS of toxic
materials being thrown into the air in the tight confines of New York City.
Benzene, mercury, asbestos, lead, PCBs, CHCs, and many more. Chemicals
with names as long as your arm and a list of nasty health effects that are
Do you remember the pictures of the dust in the buildings nearby? Do you
remember the sealed rooms, furniture covered in that dust despite the most
That was the proof of those poisons, settling in the homes of the people
The story I want to tell starts with a woman I met quite a while ago online.
Our acquaintance has been limited, but she's someone I like and respect,
both professionally and personally.
For years, she's been generous and giving of her expertise to a great many
people who are fortunate to know her better than I. She's consistently
positive, cheerful and professional.
In short, she's a pretty nice lady.
She also happened to live, on September 11, 2001, within a stone's throw
(literally) of the World Trade Center.
Thereby hangs the tale.
Her name is B.L. Ochman.
If you frequent many of the serious marketing or PR discussion forums,
you'll recognise her.
BL, like many of the people living near the site at the time of the attack,
suffers from some very serious health problems resulting from the toxic fog
created by the collapse of the Towers.
She's seeing four doctors, and she's dealing with the health issues as best
she can. Like many people who witnessed the disaster personally, she's not
had a full night's sleep, uninterrupted by nightmares, once in the past
Her health, her finances, her business and her peace of mind have been
battered left and right by the aftershocks of the attack.
She's been dealing with it as best she can, like so many of the survivors of
9/11. Day to day. Some days, it's all she can do. Some days, it's not
Over the past few months, she, and thousands like her, have been hit again -
This time, the attack is coming from her fellow New Yorkers.
BL has documentation of the many illnesses she suffers from as a result of
the attacks, and it all states clearly that it would be very dangerous for
her, physically and psychologically, to live in that area again.
She has received notice that her landlord, Ocean Partners, LLC, has no
intention of returning her security deposit, but instead is suing her for an
additional 10 months' rent.
Her rent was paid through October 15th, and the landlord had a 3 month
security deposit in hand, amounting to $6300. The apartment was rented out
again in January of 2002. They were paid for the entire period during which
the apartment was vacant.
Ocean Partners wants another $21,000 out of her.
Not only does it seem unethical to try to gouge rent from two people for one
apartment for the same period, it also seems that, in New York at least,
this is illegal.
That doesn't seem to deter Ocean Partners, LLC, or their counsel, the
Moinian Group. They suffered losses as a result of the attacks, and by God,
they're going to recover them.
Even if it means using the courts to try to squeeze unjust and undeserved
payment from struggling victims.
It gets worse.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been turned out of
their apartments because FEMA took 120 months to release funds for the
survivors in the area who had been stricken by the attacks.
Some lost their jobs. Others, their health. All were neglected by a system
that they paid, through their taxes, to support.
It gets worse still.
A case was reported in the NY Daily News of a woman's estate being sued (by
a different landlord) for the full value of the lease she signed just days
before she was killed in the attack.
The woman failed to give 90 days notice prior to terminating the lease.
In a bizarre twist, the landlord tried to refuse to allow the woman's
children access to her apartment so they could obtain a hairbrush or other
item which could provide a DNA sample to positively identify their mother's
remains. The police had to intervene to force her to allow them access.
The landlord then moved into the apartment.
According to sources familiar with NYC rental law, the rent due under the
lease was forgiven by law as soon as the landlord moved in.
This doesn't seem to be of great concern to this particular corporate ghoul.
Stories like this are showing up more and more often in the press in NYC.
BL's case is not unique in the details.
It IS unique in that she has a lot of friends online, and she refuses to be
rolled over by these sorts of ... people.
Just one major show of public outrage could be the example necessary to turn
That's where you come in.
When the attack occurred, many of you gave blood, sweat and tears to the
Blood, through the Red Cross. Sweat, through direct aid at the site and
through the effort needed to earn the money you contributed for the victims
and their families. Tears, through your compassion, and through the pain you
shared with all civilised people.
This time, all that's needed to make a difference is your voice.
John Counsel has put together a site that explains the situation in more
detail. You can see it at
It didn't surprise me at all that John would do this. I've known him for 5
years, and this is very much in keeping with his character and his
He's taking the time to help someone 10,000 miles away that he's only ever
met through email. John's a class act, and the kind of person that keeps me
hopeful about the difference the Internet can make for individuals
throughout the world.
New York One, a radio station in NYC, has been a huge help to BL and other
victims of this kind of outrage. You can see their coverage of the situation
(If the URL wrapped, you will have to paste both parts into your browser to
access the page.)
If you'd like to send a message to the law firm representing Ocean Partners,
LLC, the address to use is
Please understand that this address goes to a secretary there. The
first person to read your email is NOT the person responsible for the
decisions or actions of the company. Be professional.
If you'd like to make your voice heard without wading through the (truly)
gory details, go to
and ask for the information packet with the contact info for the parties
involved. Let them know what you think of this abuse of people who were
harmed only because they're American, and living in NYC.
While you're there, take a moment and go to
to send a message to BL, showing your support for her and the others facing
this obnoxious abuse by their own neighbors.
It's a year later.
You can make a difference.
PS: Feel free to forward this to anyone that you think will take action on
it. Use it in any way you find appropriate.
Copyright Paul Myers, 2002