NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg patted himself on the back Tuesday, saying the city had done a good job responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, despite mounting criticism from residents across Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways.
“I do not see very many people criticizing," Bloomberg told reporters when asked to judge his performance at a press briefing at City Hall — as tens of thousands remain without power and struggle for basic supplies, including water and food.
"There are a handful of people, I'm sure,” he said. "There’s always somebody who screams, 'I didn’t have coffee for 24 hours. What an outrage!'
"But for most people," he said, "they understand we're in this together. They see people trying to work. They understand that there's no easy answers to some of these problems."
For more than a week, tens of thousands of residents across devastated regions have been living without power, hot water and heat, as the temperature have plunged to near freezing.
"When are we gonna get some help!" pleaded one woman who bumped into Bloomberg during a tour of the Rockaways last week, in footage captured by NY1.
"We've been out here for f---ing days! When we gonna get some f---ing help?!" she pleaded.
But Bloomberg said he shouldn't be blamed for the disaster.
“I’d love to tell you I have something to do with creating storms or preventing them," he said.
Nonetheless, Bloomberg recognized that there is frustration in some areas.
"Those that don’t get aid right away get more anxious, disaffected, tired, irritable. I certainly would be. And you see that," he said. But, he added, "You cant let that get in the way."
"You can tell me all you want about how difficult the problems are. I can look and see the things that are going right," he said.
To try to help better manage the disaster, Bloomberg announced the appointment of Brad Gair, a former Office of Emergency Management deputy commissioner, to oversee the city's long-term housing recovery operations.
The administration's top priority, Bloomberg said, is making sure people get the help they need.
"There's a handful of people, those who were most vulnerable, right along the coast, they've got the biggest problems long term," the mayor said.
"My great concern isn't the vast bulk of the people... it is making sure that people don't forget about those who lost everything," Bloomberg said. "We as a society, we tend to forget pretty quickly."
He also commended city workers, including Department of Sanitation staffers, many of whom have been working around-the-clock, despite facing losses of their own.
"That’s what people see," he said of sanitation crews working to clean garbage from the streets. If people see a "WWII bombed out city," he said, "they lose all hope."