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South Street Seaport Historic District Still With Big Problems 2 Months After Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in lower Manhattan at least temporarily, and thousands of people are still without power or phone service. It's mostly an uninhabitable area, eight weeks after Hurricane Sandy.

In the South Street Seaport historic district you find a few small businesses open yet empty, coupled with signs of hope that neighboring businesses return.

"Look at Front Street. It's completely dark. We got wiped out over here," Kevin Barry, the manager of Grandma's House restaurant on Peck Slip, told CBS 2's Emily Smith.

South Street winery Pasanella & Son reopened quickly after Sandy.

But there are 10,000 people temporarily out of work -- from businesses who can't yet reopen in lower Manhattan. That's according to State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who represents the area. And without an ecosystem, surviving business owners aren't thriving.

"We all find ourselves in similar and challenging position to get back up," Marco Pasanella said.

Con Edison confirmed that 28 buildings are still in the dark. That includes some luxury high-rises and thousands of people no longer spending money in lower Manhattan.

"The problem is equipment was so badly damaged in basements of buildings that they need to get repaired and inspected and then we can hook up to our grid again," spokesman Michael Clendenin said.

Barbarini is one of the businesses that were flooded out by Sandy. The restaurant's owner said he's planning to leave Front Street out of necessity

"I have three kids and this is the only business I have, so I have to look for some kind of income," owner Stefano Begallo said.

"The federal government needs to come in and help the three states devastated by Sandy and the historic district is a gem of a neighborhood," said Catherine McVay Hughes of Community Board 1.

It would normally be crowded on a Thursday night, but that wasn't the case when Smith visited the area. One restaurant, established 140 years ago, had a boarded-up window that said "We miss you, Paris. Please come back."

Phone and Internet service is still out for many in lower Manhattan. Verizon told CBS 2's Smith that the copper network was destroyed by the surging waters and is being replaced with a state of the art all-fiber network, a time-consuming procedure.

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