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.
Emergency workers were hungry. One crew of about 60 men (they spoke on condition of anonymity since they aren't authorized to give interviews) had driven giant trucks all the previous day, arriving at their staging area in Staten Island at about 3 a.m. They are usually stationed in another region that has seen more extensive flooding in the past. They had to pump some 60 feet of water out of the basement of a large office building to allow Con Ed to restore power. The building's owner, however, was concerned that removing the water might cause the walls to collapse, so the workers were waiting while a structural engineer was brought in to evaluate the situation. The men were hungry, but their boss in the white helmet was a bit skeptical when I told him a guy working at a hot dog cart some 10 blocks away claimed to have 50 hot dogs he could sell them. "Isn't there a McDonald's somewhere near here? How far do we have to go to get to a place that has electricity?" One of his men was less demanding. "I'll walk 10 blocks to get myself a hot dog," he said. With little food available in the area, it was unquestionably a good day to run a hot dog cart. Abdelrahim Nader, manning his cart on Wall Street, said he typically sells between 70 and 90 franks a day. On Wednesday, though, he figures he served up 150.