On the day the terrorists flew into the World Trade Center, the Wu-Tang Clan canceled its meeting with a record mixer named Richard Oliver, so Mr. Oliver rushed downtown from his Hell’s Kitchen apartment to help out.
He said he spent three sleepless days at ground zero, tossing body bags. “Then I went home, ate, crashed, woke up,” he said. He had left his Dr. Martens boots on the landing outside his apartment, where he said they “had rotted away.”
“That was kind of frightening,” he continued. “I was breathing that stuff.”
After the Sept. 11 attacks, nothing symbolized the city’s rallying around like many New Yorkers who helped at ground zero for days, weeks, months, without being asked. Now Mr. Oliver, suffering from back pain and a chronic sinus infection, is among scores of volunteers who have begun filing claims for compensation from a $2.8 billion fund that Congress created in 2010. But proving they were there and eligible for the money is turning out to be its own forbidding task.
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