Establishment Owners Worried Once Bustling Area Won't Be What It Once Was

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than two weeks after the storm, the Tri-State Area is just now seeing how Sandy permanently changed the face of Lower Manhattan.

Entire buildings and pieces of the city’s history are just gone, CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported Thursday.

Front Street is one of New York City’s most historic districts. The typically bustling area is now mostly abandoned after being flooded by eight feet of ocean water during the hurricane.

“It was just heartbreaking, really heartbreaking. We really take care of our place and it’s gone,” Adriana Barbagallo said.

Barbagallo and her husband, Stefano, said they opened “Barbarini” seven years ago — a high-end Italian restaurant at 225 Front St. that has now been gutted because of flooding.

The eatery was among the first of many businesses to open in the historic district after years of it being a virtual ghost town.

“Our insurance denies any claim because they don’t cover damage by the flood and there’s no grant available yet, only loan,” said Stefano Barbagallo.

Even if the gas pipes are fixed underground, it could be six months before the owner allows businesses to reopen. That’s concerning for Marco Pasanella, who sells wine a few blocks away.

“The only problem is we’ll have our little corner store — with nobody on the corner,” Pasanella said. “There’s a fear of buildings collapsing and gas pipes exploding.”

It’s not just businesses that have been impacted. More than 100 residents were displaced, leaving little to no activity at all day and night.

Business owners said Thursday was the first night some of the street lights were on. For the few that can open now, they wondered how they’d make money when they thrived on people just walking by and stopping in.

They said they are going to have to get financial assistance from Albany or the federal government to get everyone back in business.

If they don’t get enough grant money, that section of Manhattan could go back to what it was less than a decade ago — all but empty.

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