Rev. Michael Reilly, principal of a Catholic high school in the storm-ravaged New York City borough of Staten Island, tells Newsmax that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to proceed with the New York Marathon is making a bad situation even worse.
He charges that essential resources will be diverted from the victims of superstorm Sandy to runners in the marathon, which begins on Staten Island on Sunday.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
“We can’t deliver emergency fuel, we can’t deliver emergency packages because we have no fuel, and as we speak, there are generators powering the kickoff of this marathon,” Rev. Reilly — whose St. Joseph By The Sea is the largest Catholic high school in New York City — declares in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
“They’re going to be drinking our water bottles that are in limited supply, they’re going to be buying gas. I have a family — a freshman in my school — who lost his house and that family has to leave the Comfort Inn because the Comfort Inn in Staten Island is honoring reservations for marathon runners.”
Reilly says bringing 47,000 runners to the borough, home to 400,000 people hurting from the storm’s aftermath, will make recovery efforts more difficult.
“The South Shore has been absolutely devastated by the hurricane,” he says.
“There are entire neighborhoods which have just been washed away. People have lost their homes. Our whole marina district has been completely trashed. I don’t know how they’re ever going to rebuild it. People have lost lives. So far, we know of maybe 20 who have died.”
While walking through the marina areas in the Tottenville and South Beach neighborhoods, Rev. Reilly tells Newsmax, he saw diesel fuel spilled everywhere and boats piled into stores and restaurants — with not a single police officer telling people to stay away.
“So there were thousands of people strolling around down there, smoking cigarettes over this fuel oil, and it was just amazing,” Reilly says. “There was nothing. I didn’t see one Con Ed truck, one police car, one fire truck the first couple of days of this.”
Reilly says FEMA is attempting to get boots on the ground in his community as he sets up collection and distribution efforts at an old Catholic orphanage.
Although people are dropping plenty of items off at the school and orphanage, distribution remains a problem because access to fuel for cars and trucks is already at a premium.
But he adds that the community is pulling together and the church is doing everything it can.
“We’re going to play the role that we always play,” Reilly says. “The first thing is just get relief to the families who need it. Immediate things: water, garbage bags, batteries, shelter, food. That’s the first step.
“And from there, we try to get more coordinated efforts to raise money for families who have lost their homes, to try to help people get their lives back to normal. It happens in stages.”
A majority of respondents to a poll by the Staten Island Advance newspaper agreed that running the marathon was “a disgrace, and an insult to every New Yorker who has suffered in any way.”
And New York City Councilman James Oddo said on his Twitter account: "If they take one first responder from Staten Island to cover this marathon, I will scream. We have people with no homes and no hope right now."
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