What went wrong in New York

The Sandy recovery effort in New York City’s worst-hit borough, Staten Island, is an absolute mess. This might be part of the reason why:

The [Office of Emergency Management], created by Mayor Rudy Giuliani was intended to do just that [i.e., collect reports and dispatch needed assistance], said a former Giuliani administration official, who asked not to be named criticizing the current mayor. “The real question is why OEM—which was built to manage the battle of the badges in a disaster, that’s why it exists—doesn’t have an evident lead role” in the Sandy response, the former official said. He speculated that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who served under Mayor David Dinkins before returning when Bloomberg took office, “never accepted the legitimacy of OEM,” which was created by the mayor who’d effectively let him go.

A senior administration official asked for comment late Sunday evening contested the Giuliani official’s categorization, but was unable to immediately explain what OEM’s role in the post-Sandy response operation was, or how exactly the chain of command between various city and outside agencies, like FEMA, was constructed.

(In any event, we had only two FEMA sightings over the day while driving over much of the island—a phone number for them written in marker on the back of an OEM trailer at Midland, and eight people wearing FEMA Corps light blue jackets huddled outside a Hess Express, seeming oblivious to or disinterested in the huge line of cars on the road beside them.)

I’m confused! Paul Krugman says FEMA is doing a great job.

Anyway, the piece tells the story of a businessman who was trying to deliver relief supplies, and spent hours driving around Staten Island trying to find a place to take them. Eventually they just went to a suffering neighborhood and handed stuff out.

POSTSCRIPT: This isn’t a conservative piece at all, either. It’s in the Daily Beast, and at one point it goes out of its way gratuitously to insult Fox News.

UPDATE: Giuliani calls the recovery effort “disgraceful”. One of his allegations is that FEMA failed to pre-position supplies of water as they said they would.

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