As the recovery from Hurricane Sandy enters its fourth day, the world is becoming painfully aware that New York's oft-neglected borough may have been the community that was hardest hit. Of the 40 deaths attributed to the Sandy in New York City, 19 of them were on Staten Island, and that number could rise as police continue to search homes for survivors and victims. In addition, the island saw terrible flooding and power outages, but appears to have been overlooked by early recovery efforts. Borough President James Molinaro slammed the Red Cross on Thursday, claiming they'd made no effort to help the island and called the charity a "disgrace." Because much of the area's power lines are above ground, it may be weeks before electricity is fully restored.
While much attention has (rightfully) been paid to problems in New Jersey and lower Manhattan, Staten Island was mostly overlooked in the early hours of the storm. Last night, there were a few national news reports that finally brought the tragedy home to people who had mostly been focused on the blackout in Lower Manhattan and destruction along the Jersey Shore. NBC's Ann Curry delivered a particularly poignant story for Rock Center, with residents picking through the rubble of their destroyed houses and complaining about a lack of help from officials.
There also the heartbreaking story of a mother who lost her two young sons after they were swept out of her arms by floodwaters. Not only was she unable to save them in the storm, she claims that residents in the area where she was stranded refused to help her. (The mother, Glenda Moore, is black and was not from the neighborhood.) CNN's Gary Tuchman interviewed a man who denied that claim, but seemed to blame the woman for being outside during the storm.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Staten Island today, but that seems unlikely to change the perception that New York's forgotten borough is being forgotten once again. It may lack the iconic skyline or scenic shorelines of other hard hit areas, but has still paid a heavy price and feels more isolated from the rest of the city than ever.
Adding insult to injury is the continuing furor over the New York City Marathon, which begins at Fort Wadsworth on the Island side of the Verazano-Narrows Bridge. Marathon officials have always taken great pride in the fact that the race touches all five boroughs of the city, but almost no actual running takes place there, as racers are dropped off at the foot of the bridge and then immediately run into Brooklyn. Just another example of Staten Island not getting its fair share of love from the rest of the city.