At a press conference this morning on Staten Island, a host of local officials, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, gathered to highlight the needs of the hard-hit borough in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. And, although many pols spoke, no one was more impassioned than Borough President James Molinaro, who called the Red Cross an “absolute disgrace” and even urged the public to cease giving them contributions.
“Because the devastation in Staten Island, the lack of a response,” Mr. Molinaro said to explain his comment to NBC after the press conference. “You know, I went to a shelter Monday night after the storm. People were coming in with no socks, with no shoes. They were in desperate need. Their housing was destroyed. They were crying. Where was the Red Cross? Isn’t that their function? They collect millions of dollars. Whenever there’s a drive in Staten Island, we give openly and honestly. Where are they? Where are they? I was at the South Shore yesterday, people were buried in their homes. There the dogs are trying to find bodies. The people there, the neighbors who had no electricity, were making soup. Making soup. It’s very emotional because the lack of a response. The lack of a response. They’re supposed to be here….They should be on the front lines fighting, and helping the people.”
Update: (9:40 a.m. 11/2/12): Mr. Molinaro said after his outburst, the Red Cross arrived with the needed soup.
Several other local officials agreed with Mr. Molinaro’s rage over Staten Island’s situation, although they did not call out the Red Cross specifically.
“It is as the borough president, Jim Molinaro, said, it’s disgusting, it really is,” State Senator Andy Lanza said, criticizing the city for giving the go-ahead to the New York City Marathon this weekend and the focus on pumping the water out of the East River tunnels. “We’re talking about getting water of the tunnel. Let’s get the water out of the tunnel tomorrow, let’s get the people out of the water today. There’ve been thousands of people who have been displaced. There are people who are cold, who are hungry, who are without a place to go, and looking for warmth. There are people still trapped. Yet we’re talking about marathons and tunnels. I walked on the rooftop of a house yesterday, I stepped on it because the debris that surrounded it was level with the rooftop. That’s what happened here on Staten Island.”
Congressman Michael Grimm concurred.
“I think this is an example of what infuriates people here on Staten Island,” he said. “Like Senator Lanza just said, we have people, people still in water. Families displaced, families wondering where their grandparents are. Are they at a shelter? Are they at a hospital? Or are they gone? That’s what we should be focusing on. I think it would be very misguided to have this marathon. I think that the people of Staten Island will see this, unfortunately…as another shot against them, that the City Hall is more worried about getting everything running again for Manhattan and making everything look like it’s back to normal. We’re not back to normal and we’re not going to be back to normal for a long time.”