Businesses Reopen With Uncertainty After Sandy

Story and Photos by Steve Fiorentine

Three weeks after the city was clobber by Hurricane Sandy, Long Beach business owners have faced the challenges of reopening their businesses and operating on a daily basis while having to overcome loss of power and water damage.

Some businesses on West Beech Street have started to reopen and operate, one sign of a few that are brining a sense of normalcy back to the West End and city at large.

“I stay open and I look at everything one day at time and take it one day at a time,” said Ram of Alabama Deli at 884 W. Beech St.

However, the numerous people who were forced to leave their damaged homes in the West End have taken its toll on the stores there.

“We are coming back gradually but definitely not the same as before,” said Ray of Kings Pharmacy, at 1054 W. Beech St.

“I think we have to [evaluate] things and see if we’re going to make it or we’re not going to make it,” he added. “I think the next 30 days are going to be crucial to see if most people come to their homes or they’ve just left and don’t return.”

Water damages and the loss of power took its toll on Beach Liquors, at 1089 W. Beech, as the staff there continues to assess the extent of the damages. The store experienced some product loss, as well as the loss of their computer system and refrigeration, but is open for business.

“Customers are great but we’re doing maybe 30 percent of what we should be doing or normally would be doing,” said owner Rich Nunziata. Nunziata insisted, though, that he was not moving his store. “We’re local people,” he said. “The store has been here for a long time and with the help of God and our neighbors we are going to be here for a long time to come.”

Down the street at F.M. O’Rourke Hardware, water damage did a number on the store’s supplies. Among the valuable equipment lost were a paint mixer and a Bobcat tractor, as well as the stores’ shelves.

“It can’t get any worse,” said owner Frank O’Rourke, whose store at 917 W. Beech St. has been in business since 1917. “We’re selling some stuff but a lot of people come in and we feel sorry for them. We think we’re hurting until we see them.”

Across down on Park Avenue, businesses also felt the wrath of Sandy. At Long Beach Surf Shop, at 70 W. Park, three feet of water entered the store, ruining merchandise such as clothing and watches, while also wiping out the floors, fixtures, and electric services. Although open for business now, the store will be holding an official reopening Saturday.

“I had three feet of water so pretty much all of the clothing got wet,” said owner Luke Hamlet. “Now we’re just selling everything for half price.”

“I’m just going to sell as much as I can until Christmas and then maybe close for a month and do some major reconstruction,” Hamlet noted. “I’m kind of looking at it as an opportunity to make some changes that I was going to do anyway.”

Some restaurants have fared better in the wake of the storm. Despite losing power for almost 12 days, business has been good at the Long Beach Diner due to the influx of volunteers, utility workers and FEMA representatives in the area.

“It’s been pretty busy, thank God,” said Nick of the Long Beach Diner. “Who knows how long it is going to last once all these utility workers and FEMA leave? That’s what we’re worried about.”

Meanwhile, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce is keeping a list of stores that have reopened since Sandy at its website.
Eddie November 23, 2012 at 09:42 AM
Wouldn't it be nice if the City reassessed these properties based on the loss of rents and value? With Governor Cuomo saying "we'll have three or four of these storms a year now," and the City's mandatory evacuation, our properties are worth a fraction of the amount at which we are assessed. Maybe some of these businesses would have a fighting chance if their $50,000 - $100,000 tax bills were lowered. Perha
jm November 24, 2012 at 08:33 AM
Wishful thinking. I guess we can all dream a little!
ronald cassiere November 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM
i heard that c town in the west end is not going to reopen the store
jm November 24, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I agree Ronald, To this date, that is what is looks like. What is the West End going to do w/o a supermarket?
Eddie November 24, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Rockaway doesn't have one, and the Democrats would like Long Beach to become more like Rockaway. Just look at all the Section 8 they are bringing into the West End.
Hamburger November 26, 2012 at 01:23 PM
which democrats are bringing in section 8?


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