Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The city's oft-overlooked fifth borough may have been the community that was hardest hit.

As the recovery from Hurricane Sandy enters its fourth day, the world is becoming painfully aware that New York's oft-neglected borough may have been the community that was hardest hit. Of the 40 deaths attributed to the Sandy in New York City, 19 of them were on Staten Island, and that number could rise as  police continue to search homes for survivors and victims. In addition, the island saw terrible flooding and power outages, but appears to have been overlooked by early recovery efforts. Borough President James Molinaro slammed the Red Cross on Thursday, claiming they'd made no effort to help the island and called the charity a "disgrace." Because much of the area's power lines are above ground, it may be weeks before electricity is fully restored.

While much attention has (rightfully) been paid to problems in New Jersey and lower Manhattan, Staten Island was mostly overlooked in the early hours of the storm. Last night, there were a few national news reports that finally brought the tragedy home to people who had mostly been focused on the blackout in Lower Manhattan and destruction along the Jersey Shore. NBC's Ann Curry delivered a particularly poignant story for Rock Center, with residents picking through the rubble of their destroyed houses and complaining about a lack of help from officials.

Courtesy NBC.

There also the heartbreaking story of a mother who lost her two young sons after they were swept out of her arms by floodwaters. Not only was she unable to save them in the storm, she claims that residents in the area where she was stranded refused to help her. (The mother, Glenda Moore, is black and was not from the neighborhood.) CNN's Gary Tuchman interviewed a man who denied that claim, but seemed to blame the woman for being outside during the storm.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Staten Island today, but that seems unlikely to change the perception that New York's forgotten borough is being forgotten once again. It may lack the iconic skyline or scenic shorelines of other hard hit areas, but has still paid a heavy price and feels more isolated from the rest of the city than ever.

Adding insult to injury is the continuing furor over the New York City Marathon, which begins at Fort Wadsworth on the Island side of the Verazano-Narrows Bridge. Marathon officials have always taken great pride in the fact that the race touches all five boroughs of the city, but almost no actual running takes place there, as racers are dropped off at the foot of the bridge and then immediately run into Brooklyn. Just another example of Staten Island not getting its fair share of love from the rest of the city.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.

Top image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Still from 'Game of Thrones' showing three characters trudging through a burning city.
    Design

    King’s Landing Was Always a Miserable Dump

    Game of Thrones’ destruction of the capital of the Seven Kingdoms revealed a city of mean living conditions and rampant inequality.

  2. A photo of shoppers in the central textile market of downtown Jakarta.
    Design

    How Cities Design Themselves

    Urban planner Alain Bertaud’s new book, Order Without Design, argues that cities are really shaped by market forces, not visionaries.

  3. Design

    How I. M. Pei Shaped the Modern City

    The architect, who died yesterday at the age of 102, designed iconic modern buildings on prominent sites around the world. Here are some that delight and confound CityLab.

  4. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  5. A woman stands in a small, 1940s-era kitchen with white cabinets and a dining table.
    Design

    The Frankfurt Kitchen Changed How We Cook—and Live

    There are “dream kitchens,” and then there’s the Frankfurt Kitchen, designed by architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926.