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The New York/New Jersey cleanup from Hurricane Sandy has been decent in areas, but the response in Staten Island is being harshly criticized by local residents. Nineteen people are dead and 80,000 still without power.

The residents of Staten Island are pleading for help from elected officials, begging for gasoline, food and clothing three days after Sandy slammed the New York City borough.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!” Donna Solli told visiting officials. “You don’t understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It’s been three days!” [...]

One of the devastated neighborhoods was overwhelmed by a violent surge of water. Residents described a super-sized wave as high as 20 feet, with water rushing into the streets like rapids [...]

“This is America, not a third world nation. We need food, we need clothing,” Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro said today. “My advice to the people of Staten Island is: Don’t donate the American Red Cross. Put their money elsewhere.”

For some insane reason, city officials are planning to go forward with the New York City Marathon on Sunday, the staging area for which happens to be on Staten Island. Unless those runners are using treadmills that can somehow be made to power up local homes, there’s no reason to devote precious resources to this race.

Adding to the woes is the likely fact that almost none of these homeowners are likely to have flood coverage.

Across the region, there are large disparities in the number of homeowners who have bought coverage under the government’s National Flood Insurance Program, according to the analysis of data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the program.

Buying that coverage is crucial because standard homeowners policies don’t cover floods. After last year’s Hurricane Irene, many people were shocked to find this out. Now thousands of people across the Northeast are scrambling to figure out what is—and isn’t—covered by insurance policies.

In Ocean City, Md., a seaside town chock full of beachfront houses and condominiums, for example, 90% of housing units had coverage as of the end of August.

But in New York City, where the threat of flooding hasn’t been as obvious a threat, only 1% of housing units had the coverage.

If residents were yelling for help in the immediate aftermath of the storm, wait until they figure out they have little or no coverage for their damages. Congress will almost certainly have to act and act immediately in service to those made homeless and desperate by the storm. And how this affects the buildup of expiring measures in the lame duck session is simply not known.

And don’t look now, but another storm could hit the region as early as next Tuesday. You know, Election Day.