For some businesses, Hurricane Irene a blessing


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    Jules Helm, from New York, shops for last-minute goods in preparation for Hurricane Irene at a Home Depot store in New York City.

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    A store shelf is nearly empty of water bottles at a store in Coney Island, New York.

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    Stores closed on the East Coast last weekend in anticipation of hurricane Irene.

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    Flooding in New York City during Hurricane Irene.

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    A recipe for a Dark & Stormy scrawled on a wall outside a bar in NYC during Hurricane Irene.

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    Tourists cast shadows on the closed Haunted House while walking along the usually crowded boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.

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    A few brave taxi drivers braved Hurricane Irene in New York City.

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    The normally bustling beginning of rush hour is seen at Grand Central station as the city continues to try to get back to normal one day after Hurricane Irene swept through on in New York, New York.

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    A homemade sign advertises discount drinks in Bethesda, Maryland after Hurricane Irene swept through the area.

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    A man runs along the beach at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City following Hurricane Irene this weekend.

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    The sun sets over Jersey City and the World Trade Center site in New York City after Hurricane Irene hit New York early Sunday.

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    A view of rough surf and the Statue of Liberty from Valentino Pier in Red Hook Brooklyn as the skies clear in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in New York City.

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    Tourists walk past a boarded up Bloomingdales store in New York August 28, 2011 soon after Hurricane Irene passed through the city.

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    Tourists struggle against the wind and rain while visiting the nation's capital in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Irene on August 27, 2011 in Washington, DC.

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    Lisa Ortega cleans furniture from her restaurant after is was flooded by Hurricane Irene in Manteo, North Carolina.

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    Two girls ride their bicycles through a street flooded by rain from Hurricane Irene in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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    Annie Gullett gets help from her daughter Katy Caroline and friend Louise Sanderlin sorting through damaged items in her gift shop after it was flooded in the wake of Hurricane Irene in Manteo, North Carolina.

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    An Eyewitness News SUV is covered in sand and mud created when Hurricane Irene swept through in Long Beach, New York.

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    Brooklyn Bridge on Monday morning after Hurricane Irene hit New York City.

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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.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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