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Sandy Brings Economic Booms, Busts To Northeast

"This is great," said Torres, who is originally from Costa Rica. "There's more money to buy everything we need."

On New York's Long Island, car dealer Joe Settineri said his sales nearly tripled last month.

Settineri, the owner of Merrick Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Wantagh, N.Y., said many of the 440 new vehicles sold in November went to contractors replacing vans and pickups damaged by the storm. The dealership stayed open later into the night, and Settineri said the biggest problem has been keeping inventory stocked.

"You have to feel bad for these people, but at the same time, I got flooded out of my house so I know what they are feeling," Settineri said. "We're all dealing with the same things."

The U.S. economy, which grew at an annual rate of 2.7 percent from July through September, is predicted to show weaker growth for the current quarter, due partly to the effects of Sandy. The late October storm drove unemployment benefits to an 18-month high, and last week Macy's and Nordstrom Inc. reported their first monthly sales drop since late 2009.

As rebuilding efforts pick up, experts say activity in the Northeast could help spark the national economy.

Contractors near the coast in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut say they expect to stay busy well into next year. While industry groups caution that new building projects likely will come at the expense of others canceled because of the storm, many contractors and analysts say the recovery effort will have a significant effect as owners of homes and businesses carry out repairs and make improvements.

Jason Brand, owner of DASO Cleaning & Restoration in Plainview, N.Y., said that he has had hundreds of jobs and that requests keep coming as people discover more losses. He hired another 17 technicians to keep up with demand. But like many others, Brand said he takes no pleasure in profiting from people's misfortune.

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