Sandy is the most hated name in the country right now. The violent “superstorm” left millions of Americans across 24 states without power. Much of the mainstream media coverage of the event has been focused on New York City and New Jersey. Images of the famous Jersey shore in ruins are some of the most circulated across the internet, as well as the damage in New York City itself. The image of a New York City subway station underwater is one of the most disturbing images associated with the disaster.
Controversy regarding the amount of coverage paid to New York City over other areas affected by the storm has been a national discussion over the last few days.
This video, which I saw on the NBC Nightly News, was particularly disturbing to me.
Brian Williams, who I trust more than almost anyone for objective news reporting, compared the situation in Staten Island to those that we saw in the lower ninth ward after Hurricane Katrina.
Williams also ends the piece by questioning the city’s decision to hold the New York City Marathon. He echoes Rep. Michael Grimm (featured at 2:23 in the video) saying “The city of New York right now is preparing for a marathon…we’re pulling bodies out of water. Do you see the disconnect here?”
The New York City Mayor’s Office announced on Friday, November 2, that the NYC Marathon would be canceled. The statement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office reads:
“While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”
The Mayor’s office directly referring to the controversy surrounding the marathon in their statement was a smart move. As is Rep. Grimm and Brian Williams calling out the city. The aftermath of Katrina deeply divided the country, and those wounds are still healing.
The lower ninth ward, which is still not fully recovered from the storm after 7 years, is one of the poorest areas in New Orleans. Many documentaries and other media in the months and years following the disaster asked why FEMA and the government never seemed to even try to help the people affected by the storm in that area.
The people living in that area are unlike the residents of Staten Island who we saw pleading for help. No camera crews visited the area until long after the storm. They never had the opportunity to be the face of the forgotten, lost in the devastation, like these Staten Island residents are.
The fact that New York City government officials are acknowledging the Staten Island situation, even discussing the controversy in their decision to cancel the marathon, leaves me feeling hopeful that the aftermath of Sandy will not be on the same level as Katrina.
Sandy victims still need aid though, especially as temperatures are continuing to drop on the East Coast.