NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What happened to all the water? Biking around Manhattan's Financial District, just a few days after Hurricane Sandy, I strained to find signs of the disaster. There were fewer cars and people than usual, but far more than one might expect, given that the hurricane was the largest tropical system ever measured in the Atlantic. The Brooklyn Bridge was packed with pedestrians, so much so that I had to use my bell repeatedly to get across as walkers drifted into the cycling lane. In the Financial District, in lower Manhattan, most businesses were closed, and there were lots of Con Edison trucks and emergency vehicles. In three locations, each about 15 blocks apart, giant trucks pumped water out of flooded office buildings. Still, lower Manhattan felt very much under control. The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday had reopened for trading after a two-day shutdown, and floor brokers were low-key and unemotional.
No one I saw was visibly in a panic or even stressed out. Hira Lesea was tired, though. She'd been working from 8 a.m. to 5 pm at the NYC Love Street Coffee Truck, a friendly gathering spot for coffee addicts that stands outside the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall St. Lesea guesses she served about 1,000 people Wednesday instead of the usual 500 to 600. "A lot of people were really thankful, really happy that we were here. You don't realize that there's a lot of people that live down here and need coffee. Very different customers than we normally have. Nobody going to work, really. I had maybe four or five regulars. That's it," she said.
The story was the same at the Milk Truck, another mobile food vendor on Wall Street that sold out of grilled cheese sandwiches -- an unusual circumstance, despite the fact that they'd brought more than usual. The Milk Truck, Nader's hot dog stand and the NYC Love Street Coffee Truck created a mini-oasis among Financial District residents. People in the area lacked not only food, of course, but electricity as well, which was why they were happy to find Daymion Mardel and Angel Hernandez offering them a chance to charge their mobile phones for free from the back of their car. Con Edison says electricity will be restored by Saturday.
The sea is rising, and it will cost $10 billion to properly protect the city, according to The New York Times. In February 2009, Mayor Bloomberg released conclusions issued by the New York City Panel on Climate Change. The devastating, if little-known, report said New York City is in danger of permanent flooding. By the end of the century, New York City's temperature is projected to increase by 4 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit, annual precipitation will rise by 5% to 10% and sea levels will climb by 12 to 23 inches. A coastal flood that typically occurs every 10 years could happen as often as once a year, the panel warned. SLG) and Brookfield Properties ( BPO), actually opened higher on Wednesday and finished essentially flat. Analysts I spoke to were focused on the apparent minimal damage caused by Sandy and they waved away my questions about its implications for New York's future. The fact that extreme weather events like Sandy are becoming far too frequent is worrisome enough. Even more worrying, though, is that few of us seem to care. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York. Follow @dan_freed