Hurricane Sandy: Staten Island in a Race for Lives

As You Know, the Marathon was cancelled within hours of writing this.  Promises were made to move their resources to disaster zones.

So skip all this.  Go to and for ways you can help RIGHT NOW.



From the North Shore, before Sandy (Photo credit: Tommy Miles)

Staten Island, like much of coastal New York, New Jersey and Connecticut was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy this past Monday.  In our part of New York, neighborhoods built along the coast were completely destroyed by the 12 foot wall of ocean surge that slammed into the shore.  Friday the official New York City death toll rose to 41, 19 of them from Staten Island.  Rumors continue to come out of communities of Midland Beach, New Dorp Beach, and Tottenville that the number of dead in just these locations is much higher. Inland, at least half of the island has had no power since Monday, with many more getting lights and heat back in only the last day.  Grocery stores are polluted with spoiled food, and restaurants are closed.  Gas stations are mostly dry, with those operating generating 5 hour long lines. Emergency supplies have been slow coming, and emergency services don’t have enough resources to even keep the peace in many areas.  Water is in short supply.  Staten Island has two government and Red Cross water centers, in the borough of over 200,000 people.

On Sunday, beginning in Staten Island literally within sight of Midland Beach, up to 40,000 runners are paying to race a Marathon around our city.  Tons of supplies, water, as well as generators, tents, barriers, a fleet of fuel filled trucks, and hundreds of government employees are being used by the New York City Marathon.  They will set up on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano Bridge, 500 yards from where the mother of two young children had them washed out of her arms on Monday.  Then they drive those supplies away.

Don’t believe it if you read that New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to continue with the Marathon is “controversial”.  No one I know has pointed to a single person here who is not deeply, deeply angry about it.  And that feeling isn’t just shared by regular New Yorkers.

A quick troll of the internet reveals public figures of every possible background and political persuasion are united against the waste of resources the Marathon represents. They include actors Leah Remini, and Richard Dreyfus, Snooki, New York Ranger Hockey player Brad Richards, the “Anonymous” hackers press office, the Borough Presidents of Staten Island and Manhattan, City Council members Peter Valone jr., Christine Quinn, the entire body of city state and federal officials from Staten Island — Republican and Democrat, some who supported the Tea Party and some who supported Occupy — are calling for the race to be postponed or cancelled.  Political voices as diverse as writer and activist Jeremy Scahill, Ari Fleicher, The lead Occupy Wall Street press sites, shock DJs Opie and Anthony, Fox News talking heads like Andrew Napolitano and Tammy Bruce, The Nation Editor and MSNBC talking head Christopher Hayes, and most of the Daily Show writers have taken to Twitter to denounce the race.

The New York Post, the Daily News, the Atlantic, Gothamist, WBAI, the Brietbart website, Russell Simmons’ “the Global Grind”, the Drudge Report, The National Review and the Nation have put out scathing abuse directed at the plan to waste resources on the marathon.  It’s main sponsor, ING Banking claims it is no longer sponsoring the event, although ING advertising remains on every piece of marathon tat.

Eamon (apparently a hip-hop star known for the single “F*ck it I Don’t Want You Back”) used his @EamonOffical twitter feed to say Friday that “Staten Islanders should protest the NYC marathon.  People should march to the start line and not let it happen.”

Penny Krackof, a social worker from Crown Heights and marathoner began on Thursday a high profile effort to divert participants from the race and instead send the to help in storm disaster zones.  The owner of the Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island has become an instant local hero for refusing to honor runners reservations, as that would have meant throwing displaced storm victims into the cold.

And that’s part of the story here.  It will get down to 32 degrees on the night of the race, the first frost of the winter here. The two generators that will power the Central Park “victory” tent for the Marathon could also provide power to 400 homes. We are in a race for peoples lives.

If you want to help Staten Islanders, folks from Queens, Long Island, New Jersey and elsewhere, try with this good starting point

In Staten Island, Staten Island Recovers provides listings of what you can do, and is continually updating resources for those in need.

As typical in the amazing people powered relief effort we’ve seen in New York, this group ranges from Occupy activists — including one man from Midland Beach who was almost killed rescuing his neighbors and family by boat in the midst of the storm — to local Republican Party leaders and Tea Party supporters.

Want to help stop the Marathon and divert its resources to those in need? Check out these petitions and blogs.


Leave a Reply