Update – 11/2/12 at 11:23pm ET: NBC News has now confirmed 94 deaths from the storm. At least 40 New York Yorkers died, 22 occurred in the borough that was the hardest hit, Staten Island.
As most of New York City inches toward normality, it’s becoming clear the scale of devastation is particularly bad in one part of the city: Staten Island.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has confirmed that least 37 New Yorkers died as a result of Hurricane Sandy—19 on Staten Island alone. Days after the superstorm slammed through the region—leaving a trail of destruction, power outages and flooding its wake—residents of Staten Island accused government agencies of responding much slower to their plight than to that of wealthier parts of the city. Many Staten Islanders are currently without electricity.
Despite being bigger than some of America’s biggest cities, like Boston and San Francisco, Staten Island is often overshadowed by its sister boroughs Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell shined a light on this quieter part of New York City in Thursday’s Rewrite segment on The Last Word:
To see Staten Island—all of it—would be to rewrite your understanding of New York City. It is the place in New York City where wild deer run across roadways. It is not the New York you know. It is a place apart from New York City, five miles over the water on the ferry from Manhattan—and, in many ways, it might as well be a world away. Staten Island has almost everything that the rest of New York City has except skyscrapers. But it has much more.
Wherever you live in America, Staten Island has a street that looks like a street in your town. Rich-looking, suburban streets with mansions, small town streets with handsome, humble homes that families hold onto for generations. If you got lost in the middle of the island, you could be in a spot that you might mistake for Vermont or West Virginia. It is America’s biggest small town.
He urged everyone to help this community as it struggles to recover from the storm. New York City officials can’t do it alone, O’Donnell warned. “Staten Island needs more than New York’s help,” he said. “Staten Island needs America’s help.”