Let the recovery begin



Posted on August 30, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mperlstein

NEW ORLEANS -- Let the recovery begin.

For much of the region, the end of the Hurricane Isaac meant the beginning of the cleanup. Almost as soon as the skies cleared Thursday, people were getting back to business.

Michael Stern and his brother Eric were been cooped up by the storm for two days and couldn't wait to get out of their eastern New Orleans home. First stop – food from the grocery.

"It's time to replenish the cabinets and get back to regular days," Stern said. “I have power, so I’m stocking up in case I need to feed any neighbors who don’t have electricity yet.”

In just about every part of the metro New Orleans area that wasn't flooded, people were quick to spring into action, even before the winds died down.

Debris-clearing began before daybreak. Residents with rakes were out on their lawns taking care of leaves and limbs. Clean-up crews with heavy equipment soon followed to clear fallen trees that blocked roadways, fell on cars or smashed into fences.

Grocery shopping started as soon as the stores opened.

The longest lines could be seen at hardware and home convenience stores, many of them built to handle the huge volume of business following the mass destruction from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.

At The Home Depot on Carrollton Avenue, manager Lauren Bernius said she was greeted by a long line in front of her store when she arrived at work.

“I had hundreds of people in line starting at eight o'clock this morning,” Bernius said. “Waiting for all kinds of supplies. Generators, ice, tarps, anything you can imagine that would help the recovery."

Even in areas that didn’t have power, a few resourceful restaurants found a way to serve food to the hungry masses of people who “sheltered in place.”

At The Company Burger on Freret Street, owner Adam Biderman fired up a propane grill at about noon to cook whatever inventory they had in stock.

Biderman said he was expecting mostly first responders when he tweeted that he open for business and giving away free food.

“Within 20 minutes, I had a line down the sidewalk,” he said. “Anybody and everybody showed up.”

The demand was so swift and strong, Biderman was forced to turn people away within an hour when he exhausted his supply of patties. Now he’s counting down the hours until power is restored to his block and he can re-open for good.

"It's good that we can be here, be on Freret Street, saying that we're doing well people are going to come back. And as soon as the power comes on, we'll be back in business."

And if Day One of the recovery from Isaac is any indication, business will be booming.