I was heartened to see that Mayor Bloomberg finally cancelled the New York City Marathon (and TheWeek.com cited this blog and the argument I made about the congestion issues of having it now.) But it still sound like he doesn't understand why people were so outraged over it. The New York Times said:
These aren't people wallowing in some imagined slight. It is hard to expect people living without food, water, electricity, heat or places to live to be moving on, when they don't even have the basics."Persuading the mayor to change his mind was difficult. Aides and friends said Bloomberg was not one to wallow, and he saw value in urging residents to move past the storm.“It goes back to his earliest days in office,” said one person familiar with the mayor’s thinking. “He is an engineer, not a political science student.”
And Bloomberg doesn't sound like an engineer to me. I have worked with and for engineers, and none of them had as little concern for humanity as he does. Frankly, Bloomie just sounds like a jerk.
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On another note, I was privileged to go out to the Rockaways this weekend with others to help a few friends and relatives of friends with cleaning up their homes. They weren't even in the hardest-hit area there, but it was still pretty terrible. Imagine 13 feet of water rushing into your home, ruining your basement, your first floor, and very well causing permanent structural damage to your house. Imagine having your possessions ruined, and having to throw them out, with no chance of salvaging them. Imagine having your photo albums waterlogged. And the people closer to the beach got not just water, but sand pouring into their homes.
Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of when people say "I know how you feel" unless they actually do. But I do know a little of what it's like to lose nearly everything. Nearly 15 years ago, my apartment burned down, and I lost two cats and most of my possessions, with the exception of clothing that smelled like smoke. So while I am not going to say I know exactly how these families feel, I can at least relate to having your home violated and things you valued destroyed in the blink of an eye.
Back then, I also received much help from friends, family and co-workers when it came to going through my ruined things, trying to salvage what was left, and moving. So I was trying to "pay it forward" a little.
We felt good Saturday that we were able to help two Rockaway families -- one with packing, the other with getting rid of things. But it made me tremendously sad to see the damage firsthand that this storm caused. Every house we drove by had valued possessions ruined and sitting curbside for sanitation workers to take the items away. The trauma that this storm caused -- from deaths and injuries to ruined homes and cars to kids having to go to different schools -- is almost too much to bear.
On the way there and back, we drove through Brooklyn picking up and dropping off friends to help. On the way there, we drove by 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, where the marathoners would have run by. That street was clogged on Saturday with desperate people in cars and on foot just trying to get gas. Imagine what would have happened if those folks had not been able to get gas on Sunday, in favor of the marathon!
And on the way home Saturday evening, we saw the marathon starting point, on Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. It still had tons of porta-potties there. This, even though Mary Wittenberg, head of the New York Road Runners Club had promised to help give/loan such items to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
After waiting on line for two hours to get gasoline on Sunday morning, and succeeding, I tried to go back there to Fort Wadsworth to see if there was food and water still there for the marathon, and to take pictures, but the security denied me access. Too bad.
But I did see a great sight on the way home after that -- hundreds of would-be marathoners streaming from the Staten Island Ferry to help Staten Islanders. They had more of the spirit of humanity than Mike Bloomberg ever will.
What do you think? Tell us about it!