NEW YORK (Reuters) – A symbol of resilience, or tactless and ill-timed? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to proceed with the world’s largest marathon on Sunday is stirring up controversy in the storm-ravaged metropolis.
As emergency workers wade through flooded homes to look for survivors and millions of people remain without power in the Northeast, the death toll from superstorm Sandy has swelled to 95.
“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.”
Bloomberg has vowed the marathon will not divert any resources from victims, and expects power to be restored to downtown Manhattan by race day. In defending his decision to go forward, the mayor cited the thousands of out-of-town visitors who come for the marathon.
“There’s an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people. We have to have an economy,” Bloomberg told a news conference on Wednesday.
“It’s a great event for New York, and I think for those who were lost, you know, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind.”
“If the city is able to put on the marathon safely and it doesn’t divert resources away from rescue, then runners should take to the street,” said Lisa Tobin, 35, a pastry cook from the Bronx who will be running in the ING New York City Marathon for the first time.