To the editor:
Growing up in Salem Willows and with a dad as City Council president, I was acutely aware of two things, politics and weather. I now live in Brooklyn, N.Y., with my wife and daughters and luckily made it through the storm with very little damage. My friend from Staten Island did not fare as well and lost everything.
Your editorial on Nov. 7, “Bloomberg blew it in his handling of the hurricane,” is right on the money, except for the most damning part. On Saturday, two days before the storm, when most meteorologists were predicting the type of storm we ultimately had, the mayor had a press conference and said that he was not ordering evacuations and that because the storm was “not tropical,” the storm surge wouldn’t occur as fast and therefore wasn’t “as dangerous” as Hurricane Irene.
My wife and I are self-professed weather geeks, and our jaws hit the floor when we heard our mayor act in such an irresponsible way. The weather community agreed. Many blogs and tweets from well-respected meteorologists expressed outrage and disbelief at the mayor’s statement. Moreover, he actually said that he was contacted by the president and by FEMA and turned down their offers of assistance and that the city would be ready to help out other communities after the storm.
Thankfully, he changed his policy and ordered the evacuations on Sunday, but I have to ask, was that too late? Would an extra 24 hours of notice helped save people’s lives? Would having FEMA help with preparations lead to a quicker response on Staten Island? Even after announcing the evacuations, his nonchalance about the storm persisted. What kind of message does it send when as late as Sunday night the mayor cautioned against a very dangerous storm, yet directed that all city offices would be open Monday and that all city employees should come to work?
I am a supporter of the mayor and think he has been one of New York City’s best, but with this storm, he may have ruined his legacy. His incompetence in this instance in comparison to Govs. Cuomo and Christie is stark. After we as a city help all of the victims get back on their feet, we have some serious questions to ask about what was done wrong and how do we make sure this never happens again.
Gregory D. Atkins