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October 15, 2001
Aftermath Of Terrorist Attacks Rocks Freelancers
by Sherril Steele-Carlin

More and more the words "business as usual" keep cropping up around us. People seek normalcy in their lives in the aftermath of terror, but just what is "normal" anymore? Many freelancers have seen their "normal" lives crumble into dust, and are struggling to get back to work.

In an article from USAToday, written by Haya El Nasser, freelance photo editor and writer Cheryl Moch bursts into tears at the Red Cross center in New York. She and her daughter lived in a high-rise building near the devastation of the World Trade Center. Their building has been declared safe to live in, but Moch refuses, saying the air quality is still poor. "It's an incinerator." "I live facing the wreckage," she told Nasser.

Moch and her daughter received aid from the American Red Cross, who have set up a relief center near the area hardest hit by the disaster. The article continues, "For people like Moch who have been displaced, the agency can provide money for temporary housing and groceries. For the janitors, waiters, messengers and other service workers who lost their jobs because businesses were destroyed, the Red Cross can help them find work and pay bills."

Many freelancers affected in the New York and Washington areas may not know they qualify for benefits from agencies like the Red Cross, and some, like Moch, may be embarrassed to admit they need a helping hand. However, benefits are available to everyone, regardless of their immediate need. "A lot of these families are doing OK financially, they have life insurance coming, and they think they don't qualify," says Nancy Retherford, a 13-year Red Cross veteran based in Indianapolis who has helped victims of earthquakes in India, the bombing in Oklahoma City and Hurricane Andrew in Florida. "A lot of the people affected by this are normally the givers."

In the Pentagon disaster in Washington D.C., freelance photographers were some of the first people on the site after the devastating crash of Flight 77. In an article on the AJR News Link, Kathryn S. Wenner talks to some of the people on the scene directly after the plane crash. "'I was right by the helipad,' dangerously close to where the plane hit, says Michael Forcucci, a news photographer for 25 years at ABC affiliate WJLA. 'There was the loudest noise,' then 'flames, a mushroom fireball that went up in the sky and black, black smoke,' he says. 'I called my wife and I called our assignment desk and started shooting.'"

The after affects of what those photographers shot and saw that morning may last long into their careers. Wenner's article continues, "CBS' Tony Furlow, at 39 an 18-year veteran of the business, says he knows that people in his line of work 'have to pay a high price.'
'Everything you cover has a different impact [on you]. Each story carries its own set of emotions,' Furlow says."

Many freelancers thousands of miles away from Ground Zero are still feeling the affects of September 11th. For many, their work has fallen off dramatically since the attacks. Many report that they did little work in the week following the attack, and assignments didn't pick up until a couple of weeks after, if then. Reports of difficulty concentrating, and making sense out of assignments is a consensus among freelancers around the country.

C. Hope Clark wrote in her newsletter, Funds for Writers has some worthwhile advice for freelancers feeling the after affects of the attacks, and finding it difficult to get back to work. "Write about the good stuff," she says. "It's still there. As a matter of fact, it has grown and bloomed. Our children still thrill us. Nature still surrounds us. People still care about others, cure ills, and create great things. The world goes on. Put your fingers back on the keys and rock on, because the good things in this life definitely outweigh the bad. Let your words tell it to the world, and get yourself back on track not only for yourself but for the others that need your creative talent for their healing."

Sherril Steele-Carlin is a full-time freelance writer from Reno, Nevada. She's published numerous articles in print and online publications. She's also the author of the new e-book
"How to get a Life by Living and Working in a National Park."
"How to Break Into Casino Jobs."
Visit her web site at

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