Fuel shortages, power outages and slow recovery in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy have upset many victims. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has bowed to mounting criticism by canceling Sunday's city marathon.
Mayor Bloomberg, who had initially sought to maintain the annual marathon, acknowledged late on Friday that it had "become a source of controversy and division."
"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," Bloomberg said.
New York's annual marathon normally attracts 40,000 runners.
"It's crushing and it's really difficult. It's one of the toughest decisions we ever made, but we really believe it's the right thing for New York," said Mary Wittenberg, the leading race organizer. "This isn't the year or the time to run it."
Much of New York's damage is in its southern borough of Staten Island, where runners would have started. Local residents have accused city authorities of ignoring their plight amid storm-wrecked homes.
"People are dead, people have suffered, and these guys are worried about a marathon," said resident John Jaramillo.
Bloomberg had initially insisted that the marathon would not direct resources away from recovery efforts, but some citizens were not convinced.
"I just walked past four huge generators," said Marjorie Dial, a tourist from Oregon. "Those could be put to use for people who need them."
New York City Council opposition group leader James Oddo wrote on his Twitter account: "If they take one first responder from Staten Island to cover this marathon, I will scream."
There signs of a gradual return to normality on Saturday morning, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the subway system was operating along 80 percent of the network.
Cuomo also addressed concerns about fuel shortages, saying that more than 8 million gallons had been delivered to the city since the reopening of the harbor after the storm. Further deliveries were expected to be made by the Department of Defense over the weekend.
The state governor added that most of the flood waters that had inundated the World Trade center memorial and museum had been pumped away from the site.
ipj, rc/ch (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)