In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama toured New Jersey, but, at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, did not go to the hard-hit areas of New York City due to concerns that he would drain emergency resources. That changed today, however, and Mr. Obama is currently in Staten Island along with Mr. Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials. According to our own Hunter Walker, who’s traveling with the president, Mr. Obama surveyed the damage to Breezy Point and the Rockaways from the air, and received a fairly positive response when he landed in Staten Island.
“A group of residents who were here at the center, which was not closed today, are cordoned off about 200 feet from the tents,” he wrote. “They cheered when POTUS arrived. Several became dismayed and shouted ‘Get out of the way’ when the press corps blocked their view of the president.”
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.”