Frankenstorm Sandy is long gone, but it still is around politically, threatening to turn its “gift” of votes for President Barack Obama into a boomerang.
Last week’s unprecedented storm that virtually shut down New York and surrounding areas gave the president a chance to show off his leadership. He ostensibly ignored the election campaign to display care and concern for victims.
Obama ordered all government agencies to move into high gear to restore life to normal for millions of people without electricity and tens of thousands others whose homes were destroyed or sustained serious flood damage.
Five days later, a Bloomberg survey showed that recovery attempts are lagging behind similar efforts after Hurricane Irene last year.
More than 3.5 million people still are without electricity or are suffering from blackouts, and power may not be restored to some residents for more than a week.
Sandy’s death toll now is 103. The biggest hurdle to recovery continued to be a severe lack of gasoline, AFP reported.
Huge lines of cars and people on foot clutching canisters snaked back from gas stations, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced rationing.
Starting Saturday, drivers with license plates ending in an even number were only allowed to fill up on even-numbered dates, while those whose plates end in odd numbers plates had to wait for odd-number dates.
New figures from the federal Energy Information Administration said that 38 percent of gas stations around New York were still out of order, sharply down from 67 percent on Friday.
Relief was slower than hoped for drivers who were told to stay away from makeshift fuel stations on the first day of the scheme to give priority to emergency vehicles. At one site in the Bronx, the promised fuel tanker had not arrived by late afternoon, according to an AFP correspondent.
Most of the New York City subway system is running, but frustrations were increasingly boiling over in worst hit neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
“I’m seeing frustration, disorganization and slow recovery,” Matthew Cordaro, a 40-year power industry veteran and former chief operating officer of Long Island Lighting Co., told Bloomberg.
“It’s verging on anger at this point,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.
The anger may be expressed into votes against Obama, who is credited by most polls with holding a razor-thin edge over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
““Now that we are all appalled by the lack of food, gas, water, heat, and the basic essentials of life throughout the storm zone, Obama’s government doesn’t look so good anymore,” wrote Dick Morris, a former pollster and considered one of the most powerful advisors in the administration of President Bill Clinton.
“Why didn’t FEMA stockpile food, water, and gasoline?” he asked. “We had a week’s notice to prepare for Sandy. There was no shortage of time. Did the government not realize that people needed to eat, drink, and drive?”
Morris predicted that Obama will lose the election.
“All throughout America, we are asking these questions of our television sets as we watch the evolving story of human misery… When Obama said that voting was ‘the best revenge,’ he threw away whatever presidentiality he displayed in touring storm damage earlier in the week,” Morris wrote.
“Particularly when we see the juxtaposition of the mounting disaster in New York and New Jersey and the president out on the campaign trail attacking his opponents, we realize that Obama is a candidate before he is president, more worried about his second term than the welfare of his constituents.
“In yesterday’s polling numbers, I saw a rise in Obama’s ratings and warned that the race was far from over. Now, we see him throwing it all away and resuming his crash into a single term presidency.”