President Obama skipped Brooklyn in his tour of Hurricane Sandy-slammed neighborhoods on Thursday, outraging residents in the borough that cast more votes for the commander in chief than any other part of the city.
“He should’ve made one stop, just to get out and say something, let people know ‘hey, we’re here,’ give them some reassurance,” said Coney Island resident Alberto Rodriguez, an avid Obama supporter who has been cleaning out Sandy-flooded businesses along Surf Avenue. “When people see a big figure, it means a lot for them.”
Brooklynites in other storm-battered neighborhoods were similarly miffed at the President’s decision to fly over Coney Island and Rockaway as he made his way to Staten Island.
“We really don’t know why he didn’t stop by Red Hook,” said Frances Medina, a coordinator with the not-for-profit Red Hook Initiative, which has handled much of the recovery effort in the washed-out neighborhood. “People are saying that we’re okay, but there are still buildings without power and heat. The situation is not done.”
“Contrary to popular belief, we still need help,” Medina wrote on Twitter.
Brooklyn pols called on Obama to come to Brooklyn as soon as he announced his tour, claiming that the President’s presence will give borough Hurricane Sandy victims a much needed boost.
Obama’s decision to visit Staten Island did just the opposite, officials say.
“He should come here. It is important that he visit and for residents to get to see him,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Coney Island), a resident of devastated Seagate, noting that Bam lived in Park Slope in the 1980s. “We are still waiting for him. In these areas, there are a lot of people who voted for him, and they are going to be missing him.”
Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Brighton Beach) agreed that an executive visit would have brought comfort and confidence to his weather-wounded district.
“Being here and seeing people with their homes down and damaged, it’s a little disappointing. I wish he would have come in here and see it close up,” said Nelson.
“These are American citizens, and it’s like the Third World here now. Having the power of the Presidency on the ground here would seem to insure it’s going to get taken care of quicker.”
Borough President Markowitz, Brooklyn’s other commander in chief, led the charge to add Brooklyn onto Obama’s itinerary, but ended up greeting the leader of the free world in Staten Island.
“Obviously, I’d like it if he’d stopped in Brooklyn,” said Markowitz. “But Staten Island got hit badly. And we’re one city, and I’m thrilled the President made the time to join us.”
Hurricane Sandy left seven Brooklynites dead and left more than 100,000 residents without power for more than a week. Three weeks after the super storm, hundreds of Brooklynites remain homeless or without electricity, heat, or hot water.
The White House didn’t say why Obama skipped Brooklyn, but the President — who did not mention the borough in his remarks on the Rock — left open the possibility of visiting the borough in the future.
“We are going to be here until the rebuilding is complete,” Obama said. “I’m also going to be coming back in the future to make sure that we have followed through on that commitment.”
–with Eli Rosenberg