Residents Complain Injustice
From The World Journal
August 16th, 2003
All New Yorkers felt the inconvenience during the “Great
New York Blackout of 2003.” Already having suffered heavy
losses from September 11 two years ago, Chinatown is again hard
hit because it only got electricity back at 10 p.m. on Friday.
During the black out, Chinatown had no ‘vitality’ to
speak of—all activities were stopped.
the East Broadway area, was still in the dark after Friday night
fell onto the city. Phenomena such as this make
people suspect whether ‘Chinatown’ is New York City’s ‘disfavored’ neighborhood.
After going through Thursday’s power failure, New York City’s
Chinatown was a survivor of disaster on Friday. As it waited bitterly
for the whole day to have electricity back, food, clothing, shelter,
and transportation—all walks of life came to a halt.
usually crowded Canal Street to restaurant-filled Mott Street,
the Chinatown area on Friday was like a ghost town. Big or small,
stores were closed one after another. Summer classes provided by
the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New York were
also forced to suspend.
On the streets, besides a few ‘disappointed’ tourists,
the rest were Chinatown residents escaping from ‘hot and
suffocating indoor air’ to relax in cool outdoor places.
Some residents even moved their card tables out to the sidewalk
to play, and adding to their existence were the trash and stench
Standing at a street corner, all that came into
view were closely locked stores. Once in a while one could see
some industrious storeowners
providing foods that could be made without electricity to passersby
and other residents.
Chinatown's high-level residences such as Confucius
Plaza, Chatham Green, and Chatham Tower were even cut off from
water supply during
the black out. This situation may be well said as ‘snow plus
frost’—one disaster after another. Under ‘no
water and no electricity’ circumstances, not only was cooking
food impossible, but taking a shower and going to the bathroom
also became problems. Residents in these buildings had to depend
on labor to lift water up stairs to keep bathrooms clean.
over Chinatown neighborhood phenomenon after power failure makes
one feel bad. To avoid heat indoors, many residents, especially
seniors, were forced to sit in front of apartment houses or to
seek out cool places at the park to rest because of their small
residence or bad ventilation.
Quite a lot of residents felt angry
that power restoration in the Chinatown area came so late. From
radio news or word of mouth,
residents heard that New York City’s various neighborhoods
were gradually getting electricity back. Many neighborhoods in
Queens and Brooklyn even got electricity restored on Friday morning,
allowing residents to return to their normal lives.
couldn’t understand why Chinatown has
always been placed on the ‘second-priority’ name list.
At the time when residents in other neighborhoods have already
been living normal lives, Chinatown residents still have to live
The City government and Con Edison did not give an
explanation to the sequence of power restoration in different
neighborhoods during the rush-repair.
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Translated from Chinese by Michael Huang