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New York City Marathon canceled as Sandy's death toll passes 100

Sheila and Dominic Traina embrace in front of their demolished home Friday on Staten Island.

Associated Press

Sheila and Dominic Traina embrace in front of their demolished home Friday on Staten Island.

NEW YORK — After almost a week of desperation, darkness and cold, emotions approached a breaking point Friday as the collective spirit that buoyed New York in the first few days after Hurricane Sandy gave way to angry complaints of neglect and unequal treatment.

The death toll from the storm rose to 105 in the United States, with 41 in New York City.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, facing criticism that he was favoring marathon runners over people in devastated neighborhoods, canceled the New York City Marathon.

The marathon has taken place every year since 1970, including the race in 2001 held two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was projected to bring in $340 million.

For days, the mayor insisted on going ahead with the race, saying it would signal that the city was back to normal.

But others in his administration disagreed, and other critics said that it would be in poor taste to hold a foot race through the five boroughs while so many people in the area were still dealing with damage from the hurricane.

In Staten Island, Eddie Kleydman said the marathon wasn't important amid all the storm's devastation.

"Look at this," he said, motioning toward the huge piles of discarded furniture and household items that line his street. "Who cares about the marathon? He's worried about the marathon; I'm worried about getting power."

A petition from some marathoners called on other runners to do volunteer work in hard-hit areas instead.

Around 47,500 runners — 30,000 of them out-of-towners, many of them from other countries — had been expected to take part in the 26.2-mile event.

Some runners at the New Yorker Hotel in midtown — just above the blackout zone caused by the storm — were in the lobby crying after they learned the race was off. One person was curled up on a couch, sobbing.

"We spend a year on this," said Gisela Clausen of Munich. "We live for this marathon, but we understand."

Linda Corbitt of San Francisco was walking to the race headquarters at the Javits Center with her daughter when she heard the race was scrapped. Corbitt has leukemia and her daughter planned to run to raise money for a cure.

"I'm sad for the people who trained so hard for many, many months, but we understand why the decision was made," Corbitt said. "A lot of people are in pain."

Behind the scenes, there were concerns about what the world would see: images of runners so close to neighborhoods that had been battered by the storm.

In Lower Manhattan, some residents spent their fifth day walking up 10 flights of stairs or more to their apartments. Many toilets did not flush. Baths were rare. Though National Guard troops and others had dispensed hundreds of thousands of meals, some Manhattan residents were spotted Friday digging through a dumpster for food.

Patience wore thin in other parts of the New York area amid lines that were once again painfully long — lines for gasoline stretched 30 blocks in Brooklyn.

Government officials asked for patience, even as they imposed new restrictions: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced an odd-even gas rationing system in 12 counties.

There were some promising developments. Bloomberg said that "most" of Manhattan would have power again by midnight Friday, although he said that other parts of the city that were still dark — and where electricity comes from overhead lines — would have to wait "a lot longer."

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said ports would reopen and that tankers carrying gasoline were on the way.

President Barack Obama on Friday ordered the Energy Department to loan diesel oil from government reserves in Connecticut to emergency responders.

Temperatures were expected to dip to near freezing this weekend. Worse, forecasters said a second storm could form off the Southeast coast early next week and then wind its way to the Northeast. It would not be Sandy, but even a lesser storm could bring wind, rain and snow to communities that were barely hanging on in the sunshine.

New York Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said half of Staten Island, home to nearly half a million people, remained without power. She represents the island's east shore, where at least 19 people were killed, most after ignoring mandatory evacuation orders. Survivors, Malliotakis said, are living without "the basics," have little communication with the outside world.

"I'm physically exhausted — but I can't sleep at night," she said. "People have lost everything."

Information from the New York Times, McClatchy Newspapers and the Associated Press was used in this report.

New York City Marathon canceled as Sandy's death toll passes 100 11/02/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 11:25pm]
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