Thursday, November 1, 2012

On Hurricane Sandy, living on Staten Island, and the bad decision to run the New York Marathon

Greetings, all. Squawker Jon and I are fine after Hurricane Sandy, but unfortunately, many of our fellow New Yorkers are not. Nor are many people in New Jersey, where I was born and raised. We've been very saddened over the hurricane's destruction, not just throughout New York and New Jersey, but on the Jersey Shore, one of our favorite places in the world.

Fortunately, we ourselves are okay, although I did lose power on Monday night here on Staten Island, and was without power until early Wednesday morning (Con Edison did a great job getting the power back in my neighborhood quickly.)  I also lost cell phone service for much of the time. I consider myself extremely lucky -- I had great flashlights in the house, so I could get around okay, and didn't suffer any damage from trees or weather (unlike other houses in my neighborhood). I live two blocks from the North Shore but my house is dry. And Jon didn't even lose power in where he lives in Manhattan!

However, many Staten Islanders weren't as lucky. As of now, 19 people have died on the island. There are still many people out of their homes, and nearly half the island still doesn't have electricity. And none of us who work in Manhattan can get to work easily -- the Staten Island Ferry and SI Railroad are closed, and the lower Manhattan subways are literally under water. And forget about driving -- the gas shortage is horrible, with literally mile-long lines just to fill up the tank. Not to mention all the traffic lights still out, and Bloomberg requiring all cars going into Manhattan to have three passengers or more.

Other than what I saw with my own eyes, I really didn't know the full extent of how badly Staten Island was damaged until I got my power back (many of the worst areas shown on TV are not accessible to the public right now.)  Things are a mess -- it truly is a disaster area. I know people who have lost their homes, who still don't have power, who don't even have water. Some people are running out of food, thanks in no small part due to them having food spoil when the power went out. And the Red Cross never even bothered to show up until Thursday, when the borough president called them out.

Anyhow, do these sound like the type of conditions that you would have a sporting event with 47,000 participants, thousands of volunteers, and, more importantly, many first responders focused on in this borough? That's why Mayor Bloomberg's decision to have the NYC Marathon continue is unconscionable, especially when he had the gall to suggest that the dead people would have wanted it to go on! "You've got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those who have been left behind," he had the nerve to say. No, Mikey, I think the dead people would like their families to be safe, and have the basics, like electricity and water and heat and food. I think they would also like their families to have the freedom to travel, something we effectively don't have on Staten Island right now. Not to mention that we are literally still finding deceased victims of the storm at the very same time first responders will have to break away to do marathon preparations.

As for the economy issues, it sticks in my craw that according to the owner of the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island, the New York Road Runners Club tried to pressure him into kicking Staten Island hurricane victims out in favor of runners with reservations. Are you kidding me? That's yet another reason this race should have been postponed -- most hotels below 39th Street in Manhattan don't even have power, which means that hotel rooms are at a premium. And Manhattan evacuees are having to give up their hotel rooms for the marathon runners. How does that make any sense?

Not to mention the congestion issues. How are you going to get 50,000+ people on Staten Island when the roads are so congested? The ferry is supposedly starting again on Saturday. What about Islanders who actually need to start rebuilding their lives again? Why should their needs play second fiddle to sports? Not to mention the bad taste of seeing runners throw half-full water bottles and food items to the ground at the same time so many are going without here. Every year, some marathon runners end up in the hospital. Are they going to take away already-stretched resources from the truly ill people who have already been evacuated from other hospitals due to the hurricane?

Look, I love sports -- baseball is the focus of this blog, after all -- but they have a time and a place. The first baseball game after 9/11 in New York was ten days later. There was a 10-day gap in the 1989 World Series after the earthquake. The New Orleans Saints didn't play in New Orleans for the entire season after Katrina. Here in New York, we are literally still finding dead victims of this storm, and so many don't have even basic living conditions. I appreciate the marathoners' sacrifice and dedication, but now is not the time for this race. To have a marathon in this town six days after the worst storm we have ever seen is a real bread-and-circuses move, and is in extremely poor taste. Shame on Mike Bloomberg.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


CarolynStatenIsland said...

I agree fully. Our resource, grocers and supermarkets are running out of necessities for the locals, we have alot of damage, some people who surveyed their losses are preparing to stay with relatives outside the island. We don't know if all bodies have been found. We cannot play host. We need help, we can't have roads blocked- as you say, we have enough trouble with limited transportation and flooded areas, downed trees, electric, limited manpower, etc, etc,-- forget the marathon.

CarolynStatenIsland said...
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