UPDATED – Staten Island Hotel Owners Refuse to Kick Out Storm Survivors for Marathon

National Guard members delivering clean water show how resources for basic survival in NYC are still so crucial. AP Photo/Richard Drew

Joanna Schroeder believes New York hotel owners who are turning away marathoners with reservations should serve as an inspiration to Mayor Bloomberg about how to prioritize his city’s survivors.

Anger is growing toward the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, and other city leaders who have decided to hold the New York City Marathon despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week. The anger is so universal, in fact, that for the first time in my life I actually agree with Glenn Beck who allegedly said Mayor Bloomberg could take his 16oz sodas and shove them up his ass for the decision to go forward with the marathon. (Though I cannot seem to find any independent verification of the quote, it sounds about right.)

What are you thinking right now, Bloomberg? The marathon requires gasoline for generators, it requires medical personnel on-site, it requires a LOT of police effort to set up barricades and to keep the marathon site safe. The marathon may bring in much-needed revenue for the city, but is it worth the extended suffering of your people? Is it worth more potential deaths?

The marathon starts on Staten Island, which has been plagued with nearly half the deaths that occurred in the entire city—the current count is 19 deaths on the tiny island out of a total around 40 for then entire 5 boroughs. Marathon officials don’t even know how they’re going to get runners there! Something is wrong here, Mr. Bloomberg. Did you not hear the quote from U.S Rep. Michael Grimm who cannot believe you’re diverting resources from his constituency of Staten Island and Brooklyn when they’re still “pulling bodies out of the water” so they can work the marathon? Did that not move you?

Here is the official marathon statement:

Following Wednesday’s announcement by Mayor Bloomberg, the ING New York City Marathon will proceed on Sunday, November 4. This year’s marathon is dedicated to the City of New York, the victims of the hurricane, and their families.

We’re adjusting Marathon Day plans as a result of the storm’s impact on our operations and resources. At every turn, we will be working to ensure that our planning doesn’t affect any recovery efforts.

As a result, our sole focus is now on Marathon Sunday and therefore we have:
Canceled Friday night’s Marathon Opening Ceremony and
Saturday’s NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K
Revised our cancellation policy
Extended number pick-up hours at the expo
And established ways for everyone to support the relief effort through charitable donations

I understand that the marathon will lift spirits and show the world that New York City is a town full of survivors. But how can they be sure that the planning doesn’t affect recovery efforts? Shouldn’t ALL resources at this point be diverted to recovery? This isn’t the same as Mayor Giuliani’s appearance on Saturday Night Live after 9/11. This is 50,000 people coming into a crippled city, using up precious resources while others are hungry, cold, and grieving losses of loved ones and their homes. The marathon can be pushed two weeks, or even into Spring, and it will show that New Yorkers care more about helping their neighbors than about a race.

Fortunately, there are a few people with their priorities in line. A few hotel owners on Staten Island are refusing to kick storm survivors out of their hotel to make room for marathoners who’ve reserved the rooms. The New York Times storm news feed quotes two good men:

“Our main priority here is to help people in the Staten Island community who have lost their homes to the storm, said Amit Gandhi, the owner of a Holiday Inn Express.

Richard Nicotra, who owns another hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, told New York 1 on Thursday that he would not ask storm victims to leave. “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? I can’t do that,” Mr. Nicotra, said.

That’s right, Mayor Bloomberg. Mr. Nicotra won’t do that. And neither should you.


Update: 6:00pm EST

Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the ING New York City Marathon has been cancelled:

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it,” the mayor said in a statement. “We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event — even one as meaningful as this — to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.”

If you are a NYC Marathoner, you can donate your hotel room to people who need shelter at Race2Recover.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/robdelaney/status/264492017801916416″]

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Certainly a lot better treatment than what people in London were getting over the last year or so up until the Olympics this past summer where property owners were increasing rent until tenants had to move out and in some cases were just kicking people out in hopes of collecting higher rent for the weeks/months around the Olympics from people who went over during that time span.

    I know the marathon is important to a lot of people but those folks can’t wait for it to be rescheduled or something?

    • Danny,

      I have relatives in NYC, and from what I understand, the whole point was NOT to reschedule, because rescheduling means that things are indeed NOT normal, at a time when so many just want a return to normalcy.

      People probably forget now, but back in 2001 many New Yorkers looked down on the decision to postpone the World Series (which the Yankees were playing in) due to the 9/11 attacks. From a certain viewpoint, when you push back sporting events that tend to engage most of the city, then you are just shoving in everyone’s face how bad things are. (I was actually living in the NY metropolitan area in September 2001 and can remember real anger at the postponement)

      This is not to say that there should be no relief efforts for those affected by Sandy, but I think that the reality of how big a boost to moral a sporting event can be is totally lost in these stories.

  2. Corinne Hayes says:

    Mayor Bloomberg has never been a good Mayor. Two years ago when New Yorker;s had a terrible snowstorm, he left for his vacation place and left New Yorker’s stranded. He eliminated 16 oz sodas and then promoted a hot dog eating contest while he himself gauged down a hot dog. He is a publicity arrogant seeking man who thinks he is the best mayor we ever had. New Yorker’s hate him and think he is a kook.
    He knew full well that the Sandy storm was set to devastate our shores and he then should have used just mere common sense and cancelled the marathon. He lacks sensitiviy and if it weren’t for the protests and pressure, he never would have cancelled the marathon. New Yorker’s cannot wait until his term comes to an end. We need him out of our hair.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Any marathoners who complain about the accommodations ought to think about how many winners are these skinny guys from poor African countries, men who run barefoot and worry about getting enough to eat. Some of the international competitors come from places that look like a hurricane hit it already. Put it into some perspective, people.

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