by Donna Carlson, staff writer
Months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, OOIDA member Luis Espinoza is still waiting. He’s waiting for closure on the loss of his young wife, Fanny, who worked at the World Trade Center and is still “missing.” He’s waiting for help promised by the American Red Cross. He’s waiting for the Family Assistance Center at Pier 94 to help him apply for his children’s benefits through the Social Security Administration.
“It’s exhausting,” Luis says.
Fanny Espinoza’s employer has sent the family $8,000. According to Luis, it’s earmarked for childcare. Christian, 11, and Stephanie, 9, are in the care of Luis’ mother, who is currently providing a home for the family.
The Family Assistance Center has assured Luis all the paperwork has been completed so his children can collect Social Security, but there are no checks yet. “Everyone still promises help,” he says, “but no one except Cantor has helped me with anything.”
Candace McAdams is the media representative for Cantor. McAdams said no personal information would be given out on a past employee, but “Cantor is offering a very generous benefit package to the families of victims. The company has had a difficult time figuring out how funds should be distributed. We are in the process of sending checks to families as of Nov. 22.”
Luis is not back trucking yet and bills are piling up. He’s disappointed in how long it’s taking for the Red Cross to deliver on their promised assistance. Luis has changed his phone number because he was tired of a different Red Cross volunteer calling him every day. He said none of them seem to know much about his situation, or can help him. Another reason he changed his phone number is because he couldn’t take any more crank calls. One caller told Luis that Fanny had been found and was in a hospital. An ecstatic Luis hurried there only to be told the call was a cruel joke.
Luis said he now knows Fanny left her office when he spoke to her on the phone the day of the attacks. He said officials now think she and others descended as far as the 78-75th floor. Luis doesn’t understand why they can’t find her. “I can’t work yet,” said Luis, “they found three bodies yesterday (Nov. 14) and I have to be here in case they find something.”
Luis has been told that “everyone at Cantor vaporized” in the intense heat of the attacks and they probably will not find a body. The flag he received at the Ground Zero memorial services has not given the family any closure. The news that she may never be found has only served to upset the family to the point that Luis is now looking to move from their home to an apartment.
“I can’t stand it in the house where we lived together,” he said. Fanny’s absence is overwhelming, both at home and when the family goes out. Stephanie and Christian’s anguish is immeasurable and Luis says Stephanie still believes her mom may come home.
“I need to get them to a new environment where they can start to heal,” he says.