New York Knows How to Overcome - NBC New York

Former New York City Mayor dies at age 88

New York Knows How to Overcome

Sandy is not the first disaster to befall New York and the city has always come through, Gabe Pressman says



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    Former Mayor Edward Koch praised the current leaders of New York, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, for "doing a fantastic job."

    Koch told me: "By bracing New Yorkers in advance of the storm, they avoided unnecessary stress. New Yorkers were prepared for what would happen. And the governor and the mayor  were absolutely right in shutting down the subway system before the storm. It was necessary to protect the equipment and it helped to keep the city calm."
    Hank Sheinkopf, a political analyst who has observed the New York political scene for more than four decades, agreed. "This was the worst disaster," he told me. "And these two leaders stood up like rocks. Bloomberg has been the field commander, Cuomo helped harness all the officials necessary to help the city in this time of need. Both are to be admired. Those who lead us in tough times are the ones we remember."

    Sheinkopf said the destruction in the Rockaways and Breezy Point is undoubtedly related to climate change. This is a city with significant financial burdens but the great news is that New Yorkers never stop being resilient." He noted that, in his lifetime we've lived through devastating crime waves, the stock market crash of 1987, the devastating attack on the World Trade Center. He said the one constant in all of our history has been change -- and the ability to deal with it.
    "I guess," he said, "it toughens you up. We are a unique breed. It's the New York gene. If something bad happens, we see extraordinary acts of kindness and bravery, even when it seems we are most alone. We live in a cultural capital, soon to be a high-tech capital. We are a very extraordinary community. Our firefighters rush into danger and so do our cops. It's the New York gene."

    Clearly, for these New Yorkers, there is a sense of pride in our power to deal with change and adversity. Susan Lerner of Common Cause told me that officials of federal, state and local governments deserve credit for "pulling together" in a time of adversity. She said that Cuomo's comments about the need to plan for the future were right on target. "It's good to see that someone is looking ahead."

    Lerner thinks that Cuomo and Bloomberg have "done an inspiring job of holding the city together."

     An historian, Harold Holzer, recalled that former Gov. Mario Cuomo had said that "we need government do all the things we can't do for ourselves." Said Holzer: "We need rock-solid leadership and, in this situation, we have it."  Holzer told me he believed "a star was born here." He was referring to Joe Lhota, chairman of the MTA. Holzer told me that Lhota's steady hand and leadership qualities had emerged in this crisis and he would be a bulwark of the city in days to come.

     If there is a common denominator in what all these New Yorkers feel, it's a sense of pride. Adversity seems to make us stronger and, ultimately, prouder.

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