More Problems for Ground Zero Volunteers

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405603 05: Clean-up and recovery efforts continue at the site of the World Trade Center attack May 20, 2002 in New York City. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced May 16 that cleanup and recovery efforts will end on May 30 with a ceremonial removal of the last beam from the south tower and the carrying out of an empty flag draped stretcher. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt

For the men and women who left the comforts and security of home to help out at the devastation of ground zero during the days and weeks following the attacks on September 11, aid is increasingly difficult to come by. Though Congress created a $2.8 billion fund in 2010 — one that is expected to make its first awards early this year — volunteers often can't prove that they were at the site, according to the New York Times. Most volunteers only have the "sketchiest proof," (Red Cross letters no longer count) and the fund prefers "orders, instructions or confirmation of tasks or medical records created during the time they were in what is being called the exposure zone, including the area south of Canal Street, and areas where debris was being taken." Without that, two sworn statements from witnesses describing when volunteers were there and what they did are required. The good news for those affected: Sheila L. Birnbaum, who is now in charge of the fund, said she's "going on the basic assumption that people would be honest."