Daily Ticker

Local Businesses Reopen After Hurricane Sandy Destruction

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, families and local shops are trying to resume business as usual. But with no power or transportation, that's a task more easily considered than done.

Economists have been estimating that Sandy could cost the U.S. economy as much as $20 billion in damages and possibly another $30 billion in lost business. Moody's estimates a loss of $30 billion to $50 billion.

More than 14,000 flights have been canceled since Sandy, hurting airlines such as JetBlue (JBLU), Delta (DAL) and United (UAL). Some are estimating that insurers will have to take losses, since there were 284,000 homes -- or $88 billion -- in the way of Sandy. Large power refineries were shut down because of the storm, which could make gas scarce in the coming months. The auto industry could also struggle as a result of Sandy; GM (GM) and Ford (F) estimated that they will lose sales in the Northeast.

The area of the U.S. hit by Hurricane Sandy creates $10 billion in GDP a day. The Daily Ticker went to downtown Manhattan and spoke with small businesses that were reopening shop in the areas most affected by the hurricane.

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Steve's Pizza is just one block from Ground Zero. It remained open to serve emergency workers after September 11th, and is open today to serve those who are now working on stopping excessive flooding at the site.

Ricky Martenez, the manager of Steve's Pizza, says the business reopened today at 5:00 a.m. after closing on Sunday afternoon. So far, business has been slower than usual, which is to be expected in a neighborhood that is mostly evacuated.

Martenez estimated that his shop had lost 70%-80% of its inventory because of the storm. Martenez didn't think the storm would be as bad as it was, and Steve's received many deliveries on Friday and Saturday. That entire inventory has now gone bad due to loss of power.

Martenez says Hurricane Sandy set Steve's Pizza back $30,000-$40,000, a loss that will be felt for months to come.

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Mahda Raza runs a newsstand on Wall Street, just two blocks from the newly reopened NYSE and three blocks from the flooded East River. Luckily, he sells mostly non-perishables and didn't suffer any loss of inventory.

Raza closed his shop on Friday evening and reopened it this morning, but business isn't what it typically is. Raza usually makes $600 a morning, but this morning he only took in $200. Raza also missed out on $6,800 of income by closing his store. Still, Raza is happy to be serving his neighborhood and providing them with whatever he can.

Gigino's is an upscale Italian restaurant in Robert Wagner Park on the Hudson River. Despite being bombarded with wind and floodwater, they remained open into Sunday evening and reopened just two days later.

While business hasn't been the same, there were a few groups of tourists eating pasta and drinking wine while we were there. The manager says she was happy to provide those stuck downtown with something to eat, along with a feeling of refinement amid the chaos surrounding the restaurant.

Gigino's employees tend to live outside of Manhattan, but they banded together by coordinating carpools and cab services to get them into work today and yesterday.

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Nan Lee, the owner of Fresh Cleaners in Battery Park City, one block from the Hudson River in either direction, reopened her dry cleaning shop this morning. She lives in Brooklyn and it took her about five times longer than it typically would to get into work.

Business has been slow, and she estimates that Fresh Cleaners has lost $15,000 from Hurricane Sandy so far. Still, Lee keeps a light attitude when speaking about her losses. "It's always something," she shrugs with a smile.

Many of Lee's customers are stuck without electricity, food and water. She has been providing them with an area to charge their phones as well as a place to hang out and relax.

On Wednesday afternoon New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a slew of resources and services, including loans and temporary office space to help small business owners. For more information visit nyc.gov.

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