I changed my flight back from London last week so that I could avoid being stranded due to Hurricane Sandy. On one hand, I thought that might be stupid - why rush home to sit through a nasty storm? It was likely that work would be closed, anyway. I would have loved another few days in London to do things I hadn't had time to do in my few days: the Pathology Museum, tea at the Wolsely, and walking tours. On the other, what if I couldn't get home in a timely fashion? I didn't want to miss any more work than necessary, plus I had a class on Wednesday and an important doctor appointment on Friday. It seemed responsible and prudent to make sure I got home in a timely fashion. As I sat in my apartment during the storm, it was bad, but not terrible. Wind howled. Rain fell. The Upper West Side was fine. Other parts of New York City were not. Power outages, flooding, a raging fires plagued my fellow New Yorkers. People died when trees fell on them. I watched the unfolding horror on TV and read about it on twitter. We were declared a federal disaster area.
It is horrible in some areas. We need all the resources we have targeted to helping the areas hit by this storm. I assumed that is what we would do. I was wrong.
As I walked around my neighborhood this morning, the sun shone. Around Central Park, people were busy cleaning leaves and branches. Runners darted around walkers. In the upper 60s, I encountered tons of trailers, generators, and other apparatus. When I realized they were using all of this equipment for the NYC Marathon, which is scheduled for Sunday, I was horrified.
What the fuck is the city thinking? We don't have the resources to clear and secure the race route right now. There are people without power and in shelters, and we are wiring Central Park and cleaning it for a race? And even if there weren't other needs, how are tens of thousands of people going to get to and from the race with no subway service? The logistics of the race are complex in the best of times; this is a time when NYC has been declared a disaster area.
Sure, I know the race generates money, but the airports have been closed. How are the runners even going to get here? And once they are here, how do they get from the airport to their hotels? (The same hotels that may be housing people with no power?) We don't have enough taxis to serve the people who live here and the people coming for the race. HOW CAN A PLACE BE BOTH A DISASTER AREA AND ONE CAPABLE OF A MAJOR, OPTIONAL EVENT INVOLVING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE? It is insane. It is Bloomberg trying to have his cake and everyone else's cake and eat it all while blindfolded.
Hosting the Marathon is a sign that things are normal, an optimistic look at the future. But we are not there yet. The Marathon is just a waste of resources at this point, an insult to the people who live here. We can't handle this type of event right now. It's just asking for another disaster. We need to be smart, do the right thing, and cancel the race.