The New York City marathon is set to begin just days after hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the east coast, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended his decision to divert essential food supplies and generators from desperate residents for Sunday's race.
Thousands of New Yorkers have been left without power in the aftermath of the natural disaster which claimed almost 100 lives. However, at least three generators, which could alternatively provide power to 400 homes, have been installed for the annual marathon event. Despite sparking public outrage- particularly among those without heat and electricity- Bloomberg defended his decision while likening the situation to that of 9/11.
"If you go back to 9/11, Rudy [Giuliani] made the right decision in those days to run the marathon and pull people together," a defiant Bloomberg told reporters adding that organizers are "running this race to help New York City, and the donations from all the runners in the club will be a great help for our relief efforts."
The race course will run through all of New York's five boroughs starting from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on hard-hit Staten Island, where a number of deaths occurred, all the way to Central Park in Manhattan.
Staten Island was reportedly one of the hardest-hit areas in New York with close to 90,000 residents still without any power. A number of residents are said to be homeless and approximately 20 people died in Monday's hurricane. Many are now begging for food, clothing and even gasoline.
"We're going to die! We're going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!" resident Donna Solli told emergency workers, ABC News reported. "You don't understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It's been three days!"
On Thursday, it was revealed that Staten Island resident Glenda Moore had her two young sons ripped away by floodwater, but so far only one of their bodies has been found. The tragedy has raised questions about the appropriateness of Bloomberg's decision to host the marathon, while emergency personnel are still working tirelessly to retrieve bodies and help those in need.
Members of the public flocked to social networking site Twitter, where "NYC Marathon" began trending, and condemned Bloomberg's decision to proceed with the event, despite his claim that it will ultimately help the recovery process.
"My friends have run the NYC marathon for 20 some odd years. Real New Yorkers know this no time to run. Help the people. Not the revenue," Rohit Sodhi tweeted.
"Can't fathom decision to allocate resources to NYC Marathon while#sandy victims are hungry/homeless. Think EMS, blankets, bananas: for who?" Tanya Goodman tweeted.
"Outraged that the NYC marathon will be held. #wrong!" Erica Chorley tweeted.