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New York Officials Promise Power Will Return Soon


It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel. In New York City tonight, two developments, one that has many Manhattan residents cheering and the other has many marathon runners booing. And to find out why, I'm joined by NPR's Quil Lawrence in Manhattan. And, Quil, I understand that Manhattan is a brighter place tonight, at least part of it. What's happened?

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Yes. Just as darkness fell, there was a huge cheer from several parts of southern Manhattan as the lights came back on. I'm not sure yet what - if whether that includes my apartment. There are many people down there, some in large housing complexes, that have spent the week dragging water up - dozen flights of stairs or more, eating whatever food they had, cold and in the dark. But Con Edison, the power company, announced that they restored power to tens of thousands of customers in two large sections of southern Manhattan.

SIEGEL: But give us some sense of where that leaves the whole city, the New York area, in terms of recovery.

LAWRENCE: Oh, with a very long way to go. Governor Cuomo was asking for patience earlier today, but he also gave a very pointed reminder to the utility companies that he is from a place, he said, called Queens, and Brooklyn and Staten Island and other places still have thousands of people in the dark. There was an argument that southern Manhattan has a - sort of the most dense population. It makes sense to address their needs first. But there had been a lot of grumbling as well that it was affluent parts of the region that were getting their power first. And some of that sentiment got very angry.

There's still better part of a million people without power in New York state, and the latest numbers this afternoon said that over 3,300,000 people are without power because of this storm.

SIEGEL: Now, Quil, while some in Manhattan may be happier now that the lights are back on for them, many thousands of marathon runners are anything but happy. Tell us about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement today about the New York Marathon.

LAWRENCE: Well, the mayor and the New York Road Runners had been saying they were going to hold the marathon as a sign of the resilience of New York City. They had been hoping that this could show that life was going on here. But just this evening, they completely reversed course after some criticism that had gotten quite vicious. And at press conference where they announced this, they said it even started resulting in some backlash against runners in the city, people getting harassed. The criticism was that the race was (unintelligible) so many people believed and still suffering in the cold and the dark and trying to get their lives back together.

The mayor insisted that the race wasn't going to divert any resources from recovery. But then he released a statement this evening saying that the marathon had become a point of opposition and division in the city. It was pushing people apart, exactly the opposite of what they said they needed right now.

SIEGEL: The mayor had claimed that all the police that might be needed to martial the marathon wouldn't detract from any other?

LAWRENCE: That's what he insisted in his statement. But at the press conference this evening, they were making clear that the resources that had been amassed were going to be diverted somehow to people in the - all of the generators and the facilities, the food and water that they had gotten together. It's not clear what they're going to do with about 50,000 runners who've arrived here in the city. This is the first time the race has been canceled in 42 years.

SIEGEL: OK. NPR's Quil Lawrence in New York. Thank you, Quil.

LAWRENCE: Thanks, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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