We've all seen pictures and video of President Obama and New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie putting partisanship aside just days before the 2012 elections. While New Jersey has been devastated, the South Shore of Long Island, where I grew up, has been hit just as hard. (Yesterday, I started a petition to get President Obama to visit our devastation too.)
However, because of inept political leadership on Long Island, and an inability to make our problems known to the outside world, Long Island is still suffering. Just this morning, I started to read reports of looting as desperation sets in. Supermarkets are empty, gas lines are endless, and fear is running rampant. What does Long Island's political leadership do? They host Halloween parties. Nassau County executive, Ed Mangano went to a Halloween Party and then, four hours later, issued a Public Health Warning.
We already knew that Long Island's Republican leadership is an old boys club of Italians and Irish with a mafioso-like mentality. If Long Island dares to re-elect a person like Mangano after this, then the consequences are only the fault of its electorate. The Nassau County GOP's website hasn't been redesigned since 1998 from the looks of it, despite being one of the most affluent counties in America. Instead of supporting a young, progressive, well-qualified, moderate Republican (Frank Scaturro), the party chose to support Francis Becker, a man with few ideas in my district's Congressional race, just because he's part of the establishment.
After Irene, Long Island was far from unscathed. Thus, this time around, Long Island officials should have been more prepared. Although I was across the Atlantic during Irene, and in Brooklyn for Sandy, from reading friends' Facebook status updates it became clear that the police and local fire departments have been working around-the-clock. For that, I and the citizens of Long Island are grateful.
That said, why has Long Island been overlooked by the media? Why has there been so much suffering with so little information? Where is the National Guard? Where are the water pumps? Where are the generators? Where is the food? Where is the water? Where are the medical supplies?
Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, is to blame as well. (To fully disclose— I've freelanced for them in the past, but don't expect to be doing so any time soon.) While the New York Times lifted their paywall during and after Sandy to keep citizens up-to-date, Newsday (while not of the same stature as the Times) should have done the same, because it is a responsibility of the media to keep citizens up to date. They still could have made money from ads even without the paywall.
In short, Long Island was ill-prepared for this mess. Apparently not enough precautions were taken. In the aftermath of Sandy, efforts have fallen flat to help people. It's not too late, but there must be leadership. Who is up for the task?