NEW YORK — With people in storm-ravaged areas still shivering without electricity and the death toll in New York City alone at 39, many New Yorkers were repelled by the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon.
They recoiled at the thought of storm victims being evicted from hotels to make room for people coming into town for the race. And they resented the sight of big generators humming along at the finish-line tents in Central Park.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he hoped to lift spirits and unite the stricken city when he decided to press ahead with this weekend's New York City Marathon. Instead, the move became a source of division Friday, with some New Yorkers — even some runners — saying this is not the time for a road race.
They complained that holding the event just six days after Superstorm Sandy would be insensitive and tie up precious resources when many people are still suffering.
Joan Wacks, whose Staten Island waterfront condo was swamped with 4 feet of water, predicted authorities will still be recovering bodies when the estimated 40,000 runners from around the world hit the streets for the 26.2-mile race Sunday, and she called the mayor "tone deaf."
"He is clueless without a paddle to the reality of what everyone else is dealing with," she said. "If there are any resources being put toward the marathon, that's wrong. I'm sorry, that's wrong."
At a news conference, Bloomberg defended his decision as a way to raise money for the city's recovery and boost morale after Sandy flooded neighborhoods and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands homes and businesses.
Bloomberg said New York "has to show that we are here and we are going to recover" and "give people something to cheer about in what's been a very dismal week for a lot of people."