Let me take a moment to point out a few that stick out in my mind.
As I walked around town in shock Tuesday morning, I passed my favorite nail salon, Best Nails, on Park Avenue. The owner and her husband were already inside mopping up water.
Top China in Levittown, N.Y., had its gas ranges fired up Tuesday. The owners were without power but cooked as much of their food as possible so it wouldn't spoil. Chinese food never tasted so good.
A friend tells me that Smithtown Bagels in Smithtown, N.Y., was open bright and early the morning after the storm. The shop didn't have power but, with a lantern over its gas stove, the establishment was serving bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches to hungry and thankful customers.
On Wednesday, when I went back to town to clean out spoiled food from my refrigerator, donate essentials and pack what clothes I could, I saw tow truck companies in Long Beach. The sand hadn't even been plowed yet. One tow truck even got stuck in the sand, the owner working furiously to get it out.
One of the few towns on Wednesday that did have power was Freeport, N.Y. Raimo's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria had its ovens working overtime. As busy as Raimo's was, it took less than five minutes to be served hot and delicious slices.
Even though Long Beach is still without power, just yesterday I saw a promotion on Facebook by the restaurants and bars of the West End that had come together to offer Sunday dinner to residents. From what I can see in the pictures, the 13 establishments used charcoal grills, portable smokers, generators and donated goods to offer free food and drink to those in need.
The businesses in small towns like Long Beach, N.Y. define strength and resiliency. Many have talked about how much of life has been put into perspective because of the storm. My biggest insight is that these small businesses, the ones in my town, are key to the survival of communities. Because behind them are regular (and dedicated) people who are keeping them going.
As a small-business reporter, I try to spend my money at local shops. As the holiday season starts, I hope others will remember those that helped all of us when we really needed it.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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