HURRICANE DEATH TOLL TOPS 90; TENSIONS MOUNT AMIDST FUEL, FOOD SHORTAGES & PLUNGING TEMPERATURES

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Staten Island resident Donna Solli cried to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and other officials visiting the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged neighborhoods in a dramatic confrontation on national television. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!”

“The residents of Staten Island are pleading for help from elected officials, begging for gasoline, food and clothing three days after Sandy slammed the New York City borough,” reports ABC News. “Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power. Many are homeless, and at least 19 people died on Staten Island because of the storm. One of the devastated neighborhoods was overwhelmed by a violent surge of water. Residents described a super-sized wave as high as 20 feet, with water rushing into the streets like rapids.”

As many as 60% of New Jersey gas stations are closed — not primarily because they don’t have enough fuel, but there is no electricity to pump the fuel into people’s cars. Gas lines at open stations can extend for miles. What’s more, those with generators to provide much needed heat and electricity amidst plunging temperatures in the Northeast can’t run their generators because they have no gasoline to fuel them.

At the same time there is growing anger at federal, state and local officials for not doing a good enough and fast enough job to help people get the food, fuel and even blankets they need. There is also anger over misplaced priorities.

“This is America, not a third world nation. We need food, we need clothing,” Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro said today. “My advice to the people of Staten Island is: Don’t donate the American Red Cross. Put their money elsewhere.” ABC reported that “the Red Cross and the National Guard arrived in the area late Tuesday and are distributing food, water and gas….Molinaro urged New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday to cancel Sunday’s New York City Marathon. The race’s staging area is on Staten Island and Molinaro said it would be “crazy, asinine,” to have the race after what has happened.”

“Four days after Sandy slammed the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the U.S. death toll climbed past 90 in 10 states, and included two boys who were torn from their mother’s grasp by rushing floodwaters in Staten Island during the storm,” reports the Associated Press. “Their bodies were found in a marshy area on Thursday. With fuel deliveries in the East disrupted by storm damage and many gas stations lacking electricity to run their pumps, gasoline became a precious commodity, especially for those who depend on their cars for their livelihoods….Motorists increasingly desperate for a fill-up fumed in long lines at gas stations and screamed at each other Friday as fuel shortages in Superstorm Sandy’s wake spread across the metropolitan area. Meanwhile, a backlash appeared to be building against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to hold the New York City Marathon on Sunday as scheduled, with some New Yorkers complaining that going ahead with the 26.2-mile race would be insensitive and divert city resources at a time when many are suffering.”

“The Energy Department said Friday that 3.6 million utility customers were still without power,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “The largest outages remained in New Jersey, with nearly 1.6 million customers in the dark, and New York, with nearly 1.3 million customers. “‘It’s freezing like an ice box,’ said Lydia Crespo, who was using a gas stove to heat her home in Staten Island, N.Y., still without power. ‘No hot water, no light. All you smell is the gas, the oil, the mold.'” The Journal reported the death toll has already hit 102.

“Patience was wearing thin on Friday amid widespread gas shortages, chilly homes without electricity and long, snaking lines for everything from buses to food handouts as many parts of the New York City region struggled to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy,” reports the New York Times. “Beyond irritation, some New Yorkers say the lack of power has made them fearful. ‘It’s terrible,’ said Marilyn Smalls, who lives in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn. ‘Totally black. It’s dangerous.’….The losses, too, continue to pile up. Mr. Bloomberg said the death toll in New York City had risen to at least 41. The financial toll will approach $50 billion, according to an early estimate from economists at Moody’s Analytics — about $30 billion in property damage, the rest in lost economic activity like meals and canceled flights. But tiny increments of progress, including a second day of limited subway and bus lines, have been made in the aftermath of the hurricane, which made landfall on Monday night as what officials now describe as the worst storm to hit New York City. Its punishing floods, rains and wind left millions of people with overwhelming problems they too had likely never faced.

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