|A burned-out car sits in a heavily damaged area of Rockaway in New York after Sandy. (Getty Images)|
Let me tell those of you who don't live in New Jersey or New York what life is like now for millions of us. This isn't an attempt to generate sympathy. This is an attempt to illustrate just how wrecked the area remains days after Hurricane Sandy -- wrecked while a football game proceeds as planned.
Large swaths of my New Jersey town remain without power. It's that way across portions of the state. Many gas stations are shut down. The ones that are open have two- to three-hour waits. On my street, houses are sharing generators. Public transportation, partially, is in shambles. Numerous subway lines are still not running.
And we're the lucky ones.
In my old town, Hoboken, some streets are still inundated as millions of gallons of water are pumped out. I saw on the news a correspondent standing in front of my old building. The area was unrecognizable. It looked like a scene from The Walking Dead.
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In Staten Island, dozens died. The area, where the now-cancelled marathon was to begin, is wrecked. One of the worst tragedies of Sandy happened here. Police found the bodies of two boys, ages 2 and 4, carried away from their mother's arms when waves of water crashed into their car. The bodies of Connor and Brandon Moore were found in a marsh near where they disappeared, according to news reports.
Citizens doing interviews while standing in what was once a neighborhood expressed fury and outrage over the city's insistence to hold the marathon.
There remains a great deal of suffering throughout this entire area. You can get that idea from the media but it can't be stressed enough that people who live in this area are suffering. And that is the word. Suffering.
It is with this backdrop that the argument is debated: Should the Steelers-Giants game in East Rutherford, N.J., take place Sunday?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg stubbornly tried to ignore the obviousness of the situation until he no longer could. The idea of a race starting in Staten Island amid so much devastation pushed the politicians and race organizers to their senses.
"The notion of diverting even one police officer, one first responder, one asset away from this carnage is beyond irrational,” Staten Island councilman James Oddo told the New York Daily News.
"The mayor said to me, 'We're not going to diminish what is happening on Staten Island.' You know what happens on marathons -- you put a cop on every corner. How are we going to have enough resources?"
Said Sen. Andrew Lanza: "This is an example of what infuriates us. We have people still in water, families displaced, people wondering where their grandparents are."
No, these are not easy decisions, but the NFL should show the same respect to the distressed that the marathon eventually did. The NFL game should still be moved to a neutral site or played in Pittsburgh. The Giants would lose home-field advantage but there are far greater concerns.
Imagine a stadium lit up with electricity just a few miles from millions of people still huddling in the dark. Isn't that just as arrogant as the marathon organizers? Tens of thousands using gas that remains a precious resource?
Chris Christie, the heroic governor of New Jersey, reassured NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that no resources would be used for the game that would be used for ordinary citizens. That's just nonsense. That's impossible.
Christie signed an executive order mandating gas rationing for 12 counties that will begin Saturday at noon. Excellent. So in New Jersey there's going to be gas rationing but tens of thousands in thousands of cars will be wasting gas driving to the game.
The NFL is escaping criticism because it's such a huge, powerful force. Maybe the only force that can stand up to Sandy's aftermath.
I'm not even sure how many households would be able to watch the game since power outages remain significant.
The NFL is trying to make things better. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora outlined everything the NFL is doing to help with disaster relief. The NFL and NFLPA have jointly pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross to aid in relief and recovery efforts. NFL and network television partners will run pregame and in-game messages and mentions to promote donations during all of the weekend's games. On-air mentions and a crawl on the bottom of the screen during portions of all games on all networks will point fans to the American Red Cross website (redcross.org) and text-to-give line (text REDCROSS to 90999 to give a $10 donation).
Before the playing of the national anthem at all games, clubs will recognize with a special announcement those impacted by the storm and salute first responders and others involved with the relief effort. Roger Goodell will be at Met Life Stadium at 2 p.m. to greet and thank a group of first responders that will be recognized at the game.
Nice effort by the NFL and it's sincere but it doesn't counter some obvious and scary facts. Security for Giants games is extensive and those police could be used to patrol neighborhoods facing looting. The generators, police and medical staffs used for the game could be sent to numerous sites around the area.
Removing technology and personnel from what is a disaster area and sending them to a football game or race is a huge mistake. And that's what is happening. That cannot be debated.
"We have the worst tragedy that's ever happened in Staten Island, and I'd say New York City, since 9/11," said Borough President James Molinaro. "We need help. ... We need food, we need clothing, we need everything you can possibly think of.
"We have hundreds and hundreds of people in shelters. How do we handle them? Where do they go?"
Maybe they can watch the football game. If they have power. Or gas. Or food.
Or if their street isn't flooded.