Long Island man continues late brother's fight to get 9/11 victims help

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It has been 20 years since the September 11 attacks and more than two years since Phil Alvarez lost his brother to health problems related to them.

For years before his death, Luis Alvarez was integral in getting victims and first responders assistance for the damaging health effects.

"He thought he beat the devil but in 2016, it reared its ugly head," Phil said.

Luis was a man of few words, yet his family says when spoken he moved mountains.

'Eyewitness to 9/11: Behind the Lens' reveals untold stories, rare video of America's darkest day
EMBED More News Videos

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we hear from the Eyewitness News journalists who were there, in the streets, in the air, and in the newsroom, reporting on the events as the tragedy unfolded, capturing the unforgettable video of that day, and risking their lives to tell the world what was happening.


"He didn't want his name out there and he would say many times, 'forget the name, remember the message,'" Phil said. "We have to take care of these people, find the first responders, find the victims, make sure they know what's available to them."

Even days before he died from cancer linked to his time spent in Lower Manhattan in 2001, the former NYPD detective kept pushing for lawmakers to do the right thing.

How reporter N.J. Burkett and his photographer escaped Twin Towers collapse
EMBED More News Videos

Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett and photographer Marty Glembotzky rushed down to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. While shooting a standup right below the burning towers, the first tower began to collapse.


Ultimately they did as they agreed to fully fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090.

Still, Phil hangs onto an ominous prediction: what doctors told his family.

"The latency period for lung cancers, upper respiratory cancer is 20 years, they told us to get ready for this year," Phil said.

It's the reason why Phil refuses to give up on this daunting task 20 years after the terror attack.

In memory of Don DiFranco, WABC engineer killed on 9/11
EMBED More News Videos

WABC-TV engineer Don DiFranco was working at the Channel 7 transmitter site on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower when terrorists flew a hijacked American Airlines jet into the building on September 11, 2001.



The retired Suffolk County police officer is director of 9/11 outreach and education for a prominent firm.

"I wish I didn't have to spend a dime of the federal money set aside for those victims because that means these people have stopped getting sick," Phil said.

Watch an extended interview with Phil Alvarez:
EMBED More News Videos

Phil Alvarez continues his late brother Luis' fight to get help for the victims of the September 11 attacks, two years after his brother's death.


Luis was 53 years old and at peace, surrounded by family when he died June 29, 2019.

Phil is committed, through action, to honor Luis.

"As long as there's work to be done, as long as I feel there are victims out there that he wanted us to find, I'll be doing this," Phil said.

CLICK HERE for more Eyewitness News reflections, photos and stories marking the anniversary of 9/11

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.