It's been four months since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, and though reporting and public chatter about the storm's lasting impact has been slowing, the recovery effort is anything but over. Restaurants have been forced to close. Workers have been laid off. Owners are sinking deep into debt to pay off repairs above and beyond insurance and government loans—and that's when they get any financial aid at all.
It starts right after the storm, with a story from a Prospect Heights kitchen manager who walked two hours to her job at the South Street Seaport: "I was afraid that if I didn't show up, there would be no reason to pay me and I need to get paid, so even though it was ridiculous to walk 2 hours each way, and I was in pain at the end of the day, I did it."
Author Alexander Hancock goes on to describe the bureaucratic hurdles restaurant industry workers had to jump through in order to receive public funds, and how struggling restaurants are still cutting employee hours to make up the difference.
Most troubling of all: there's a crippling lack of awareness about how bad Sandy-affected areas still have it, even down by the heart of southern Manhattan's tourist hub. As Bridge Cafe owner Adam Weprin put it in an interview with USA Today, "People don't even know that we are closed. People have no clue that this corner of Manhattan has been hit so badly."