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Nov 02 2012

Staten Island, NYC’s Forgotten Borough

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

This is where I live and work. I have spent most of my life training for, and dealing with, disasters around the world. Little did I ever expect to be in the middle of one in my own backyard. I am here for my family, my neighbors, my community and my first home city. I am here to try to make order out of chaos, to heal, comfort and console, starting with one life at a time.

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.

I have sporadic internet connection and I’m connecting now through an satellite connection, as I was in Haiti and Gaza. I have taken to using Skype to connect with my family, friends and colleagues because cell service has been anywhere from nonexistent to barely useable it all depends on if you’re in an area where you have power and cell sites.

I’ve had a few flashbacks but I have a lot of good support in this boat. Just don’t anyone stand up and rock it, we would be hard pressed to deal with a capsize.

Thanks to Lawrence O’Donnell for telling the nation about our “little” island in the heart of New York City.

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