Tuesday marked 17 years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Many people, especially first responders, are still feeling the impacts from that day.
Thousands of first responders were called to New York City’s World Trade Center to help during the aftermath of the attacks, including Lee Rogers.
The retired Corpus Christi fire fighter and former member of the Texas Task Force One arrived in New York City a week after the 9/11 attack.
“We were crossing the George Washington Bridge, and we could still see the lights and the smoke,” Rogers said.
As first responders like Rogers were searching for survivors, they were exposed to dust, chemicals and other toxins in the air.
“There was still just a tremendous amount of dust and particulate matter that was in the air,” Rogers said.
Seventeen years later, many of those first responders are experiencing health problems like respiratory issues, chronic cough, asthma or even cancer. Others include PTSD and mental health conditions.
Rogers spent eight days assisting during the recovery efforts after the 9/11 attack, and he was working 12-hour shifts.
Since then, Rogers has been told he has asthma. He is screened annually by the World Trade Center Health Program. The program provides treatment and monitors the health of 9/11 survivors and first responders.
Rogers says many others in the Texas Task Force One are also being monitored by the program, and are experiencing health problems tied to their experience.
“We knew that this was an event that was probably going to affect most of us for the rest of our lives,” Rogers said. “And indeed it has.”
Despite the health concerns arising years later, his assisting during the recovery at Ground Zero was the highlight of his 38-year career,
“I still see that place 17 years later,” Rogers said. “And ya know, it’s just with you. And it won’t leave.”
According to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, 343 first responders lost their lives on 9/11.