After being misunderstood last week comparing the explosion, fire and collapse of a building in Harlem to the tragedy of the Twin Towers collapse on 9/11/2000, Representative Charles Rangel of New York explained his meaning more clearly:
“When I first described as our community’s 9/11 what we now know was a gas explosion, I was referring to the chaos and shock that resulted from the tragic incident that occurred in the heart of my beloved congressional district in East Harlem on Wednesday morning,” Rangel wrote in Time. “While it was neither a terrorist attack nor comparable to 9/11 in scope and scale, the suffering from loss or injuries of loved ones has been as painful and horrific to the entire community where I was born and lived all my life.”
Rangel, who has represented his Manhattan district for 22 terms, made his original comments to a news outlet as the fire was raging last Wednesday morning.
“This is a very serious thing. It’s our community’s 9/11, even though we don’t know how it started,” Rangel said at the time to a New York NBC affiliate.
When that remark was made there was no information yet about the number of deaths or the cause of the disaster. Last Friday Rangel wrote that the event should spur Congress to improving infrastructure that has not been upgraded in years.
“We have to wait for the findings from the National Transportation Safety Board team’s investigation, but it is apparent that the catastrophic gas explosion has been caused by poor and outdated infrastructure,” Rangel wrote on Friday, citing research that New York’s gas mains are old and prone to leaks. “Altogether, the city needs almost $47 billion worth of infrastructure upgrades by 2020. It is costly, but we will pay a higher and terrible price if we ignore it.”
Rangel added that the problem of deteriorating infrastructure is not limited to New York; the whole country is dealing with this issue. He supports Obama’s 2015 budget request which includes investments in national infrastructure.
“Our community is resilient and will recover from the tragedy stronger and as united as ever, just as our country did after 9/11,” Rangel wrote. “While we cannot stop Mother Nature from wreaking havoc in our communities, lawmakers must do what we can to invest in sustainable infrastructure that will ensure against preventable harm.”