Although Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given the New York City marathon the green light to move forward with its Nov. 4 event — less than a week after Hurricane Sandy made landfall devastating much of the city — one hotel on Staten Island, a place were residents are saying help has been hard to come by, is taking a stand.
A flood of a different kind is headed toward the ravaged city this weekend: more than 40,000 expected runners. With many of them coming from out of town, hotel reservations were made well before the historic storm was on anybody’s radar. Those with reservations at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield though might not have place to stay, as the hotel refuses to evacuate storm victims.
According to a New York 1 report, the hotel has been at full capacity with those displaced from the storm and the owners aren’t going to make them leave to make room for the runners.
“How do I tell people that have no place to go, that have no home, that have no heat, that you have to leave because I need to make room for somebody that wants to run the marathon?” Richard Nicotra said in the report. “I can’t do that.”
The marathon’s sponsor is in agreement with Nicotra. Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners, said “marathoners will find a way.” Wittenberg noted that those coming to the city for the marathon are now doing so in support of the those impacted by the natural disaster. In fact, New York Road Runners has created the 2012 ING New York City Marathon Race to Recover Fund, which will donate at least $1 million to the recovery effort.
“NYRR’s thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy,” Wittenberg said in a statement. “On Sunday, as runners cross the five boroughs, we want them to bring with them a sense of hope and resilience. The marathon is not just a race—it’s about helping NYC find its way on the road to recovery.”
New York 1 reported that marathoners might not be happy about the loss of reservations, but Nicotra said that he would be willing to set up cots in the hotels vacant rooms — ballrooms — if they were available. Nicotra is reportedly working with officials to obtain cots if there are any to be had.
Watch the New York 1 report here.
Other Staten Islanders have expressed angst over the marathon, fearing it could take other efforts away from residents who need help. NBC News has more on this perspective:
“If they take one first responder from Staten Island to cover this marathon, I will scream,” New York City Councilman James Oddo said on his Twitter account. “We have people with no homes and no hope right now.”
“The prudent course of action here — postpone the marathon, come back a different day,” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “Our first priority, let’s help people who lost their homes, who are missing loved ones.”
Watch the NBC Today show report:
It is reported that at least 19 of the 37 New York City deaths from Hurricane Sandy thus far were of Staten Island residents.