20110829 hurricane irene flooding
Flooding in New York City during Hurricane Irene. - 

Jeremy Hobson: We're just a few minutes away from the reopening of the New York Subway system. It's been closed since Saturday because of Hurricane Irene. And the commute in the Big Apple this morning promises to be a mess, which is nothing compared to the devastating floods that are causing huge problems in upstate New York and in Vermont. Cost estimates for the damage from the storm up and down the East Coast are already in the billions of dollars.

But some businesses actually got a bump from Irene, as Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith reports now from New York.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: In parts of Red Hook Brooklyn, water was almost hip high. Even at Dry Dock Wine and Spirits, owner Mary Dudenais Kyle said the basement did flood, but all in all, Hurricane Irene was good for the bottom line.

Mary Dudenais Kyle: The day before was one of the busiest we've had since we opened.

Dudenais said with bottles flying off the shelves, there was kind of a festive atmosphere.

Dudenais: It was an awful lot of fun, because it was a party -- everyone was getting ready for a party.

As of Sunday night, that party seemed to be continuing. Dudenais had reopened, and had almost completely sold out of a special rum that's a key ingredient in a favorite neighborhood cocktail, called the Dark and Stormy.

With the subway shut down, taxis were also at a premium.

Neb Ermis: I've been out since last night.

That's yellow cab driver, Neb Ermis. He says he was one of a few taxis, and being willing to brave the wind and rain paid off.

Vanek-Smith: So are people tipping better today?

Ermis: Yeah, most definitely, they are -- up to $40 for a short ride.

Queens and Staten Island experienced serious flooding; so did parts of Lower Manhattan -- including buildings in the city's financial district.

Chris Tribble works for Verizon. He was pumping water out of the basement of a skyscraper, just 200 feet from New York harbor.

Chris Tribble: We're actually pumping out the water in the facilities and the vault so the cables won't get wet.

Tribble says the water is still rising, which has the city working overtime to try and prevent corrosive salt water from shutting down phone lines and power.

Tribble: If the pressure keeps coming up, the water's going to keep going, so we have to keep pumping.

Tribble says he expects this will be a very long week.

In New York, I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

Follow Stacey Vanek Smith at @svaneksmith