As election returns trickled in, nearly 200 New Yorkers left homeless by superstorm Sandy could not have felt more powerless as they huddled inside a makeshift shelter in the city’s Staten Island borough.

Some had taken a break from trying to rebuild their lives earlier in the day to hunt down a polling station to cast their votes. And as returns came in showing who would be president for the next four years, people who have been without electricity for more than a week were powerless to know what was going on. City officials running the shelter locked up the televisions, according to the storm victims who have been at the facility for nearly a week.


“We've been asking for TVs to watch, but they won't let us watch,” said Edwin Mansour, 45, a bail bondsman who was staying at the only shelter still open on Staten Island after losing his home in New Dorp. “We said, 'It's the election we want to see.' They said no. They won't let us watch.

“People want to know what's going on."

Mike Albanese, 46, said people were desperate for news about the election, but only heard rumors that were being passed around.

"Over 200 people here, at least half, asked for TV,” he said. “We're all asking. We're all wanting to know what's going on with the election, but they won’t let us know what's going on. The guy who works here keeps saying ‘I'm looking for rabbit ears.’"

The storm victims relied on spotty service to monitor election news on their cellphones, but poor reception, a dearth of specific information and wild rumors made it impossible to know what was happening.

A reporter went inside to ask a relief supervisor if there would be any TV or radio coverage of election returns at the shelter and was initially told some people may be allowed to watch in the teachers' lounge. But a supervisor quickly overruled her and ordered the reporter outside, where angry people still reeling from the loss of their homes smoked cigarettes and asked each other who was winning.