Hotel Owner Refuses to Evict Sandy Evacuees For Marathoners

BREAKING UPDATE: The New York Marathon has been canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Still, this story deserves attention.

Richard Nicotra, the owner of the Staten Island, New York’s Hilton Garden Inn, says that he will not evict guests who had to evacuate their homes due to Hurricane Sandy, even though people planning to run in this Sunday’s New York Marathon have reservations to stay at the hotel. The superstorm has killed at least 102 people so far, 41 of whom were Staten Island residents.

As reports, marathoners planning to stay at the hotel are not happy about Nicotra’s decision to do the right thing. But even Mary Wittington, the president of the New York Road Runners which sponsors the race, thinks that evacuees’ needs comes first. She rather emphasized that marathoners coming to New York are doing so in support and that they “will find a way.”

Nicotra sums up the issue in

How do I tell people who have no place to go, that have no home, no heat, that you have to leave because I have to make room for somebody that wants to run the marathon? I can’t do that.

Nicotra has also offered a number of ballrooms in his hotel as shelters for evacuees. The problem is, after Sandy, there’s a shortage of cots.

With those across the New York region contending with no electricity as temperatures drop, long lines at gas stations along with fuel shortages, still more lines for essentials (food, water), closed schools and businesses, many are questioning Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to still hold the marathon. Bloomberg said on Friday that ”We have to have a city going forward/ New York has to show that we are here, that we are going to recover.” He stated that only a “relatively small amount of Sanitation Department resources” would be needed for the marathon, that there are plenty of police offices in “areas not affected” and that the marathon will “give people something to cheer about.”

But both the city’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, and City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn, have publicly disagreed with Bloomberg’s decision. The New York Police Department has actually called for retirees to assist with both storm work and the logistics of the marathon, in contradiction, it would seem, to Bloomberg’s assertion.

50,000 runners are expected for the marathon. But thousands more of the city’s own residents still lack essentials (food, water, electricity).

Simon Ressner, a lieutenant in the Fire Department who has been planning to run in the marathon, has urged the marathon’s organizers to postpone it. As he pointed out to the New York Times, first responders including police officers and fire department personnel not only have their hands full with post-Hurricane Sandy efforts, but are needed for unpredictable issues, such as helping to direct traffic (and tempers) at the increasingly long lines on the region’s roadways (including the interstate) for fuel. Says Ressner about the decision to still run the race, “…we’re not going to show the world we’re resilient, we’re going to show them we’re selfish.”

For an example of a New Yorker who’s showing resiliency and generosity, all eyes should be on Nicotra, the hotel owner out on Staten Island who has put first those who are enduring the chaos created by Sandy.


Related Care2 Coverage

How The Big Banks Helped Cause Hurricane Sandy

Obama Visits a Storm-Ravaged New Jersey

UPDATE  – SANDY: How To Help


Photo of Staten Island by Tomathon


Latonya W.
Latonya W5 years ago

Salute to u Nicotura!!!!!!!!!! Ur mom did a fine job raising u wish their were more people like u in the world:)

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

I would never have thought that so many people could even think of showing up in a disaster area if not to help out in some way, rather than using resources that are already inadequate for a personal venture in the midst of suffering and deprivation.

The burden of 50,000 extra people would be something even after the worst of the damage had been repaired, never mind in the midst of the aftereffects - how can this not be obvious?

Harley Williams
Harley W5 years ago

Hurrah for this guy. He actually did the right thing. Also I heard the Hilton Hotel chain backed him up. It is nice to see the good guys win.

Lori M. Smith
Lori Smith5 years ago

Was the right thing to do. Those marathon runners who whined about the race being called in light of the circumstances, or those runners who criticised Nicotra's decision - need a reality check! There are still 1.3 million people without power, people without homes, people who lost loved ones and it is cold up there!

Tamara r Pearlman

This is just not a practical time for a marathon. NYC needs to concentrate on the city, their streets and rail systems and most of all the tens of thousands displaced by Sandy! The marathon can take place in the Spring of 2013; once this horrid mess is under control (God willing).

Dagmar Breg
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank God for those who have their priorities in check.

Lynda Duke
Lynda Duke5 years ago

The marathon runners will eventually go home, (by now they have) but those who suffered loss in Sandy, have nothing to return to. Thank you Mr.Nicotra! You're a right on stand up kind of guy who has my respect! Right On!

Mary Brady
Mary Brady5 years ago

Glad he did the good Christian thing. Taking care of those in need.

Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago

that's admirable of him for standing up and doing what's right. and i'm glad they called off the marathon after all...

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago