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Lewisboro Businesses Fight Back After Sandy

Lewisboro businesses like Bluebird Ice Cream took a hit from Hurricane Sandy but are optimistic they'll bounce back.
Lewisboro businesses like Bluebird Ice Cream took a hit from Hurricane Sandy but are optimistic they'll bounce back. Photo Credit: Bob Dumas

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Hurricane Sandy might have shut down the power throughout Lewisboro for nearly a week, but it didn’t shut down the resiliency and optimism of its business owners.

“It slowed us down, but we are bouncing back,” said Gina Valvona, manager of the Subway sandwich shop in the Orchard Square shopping center in Cross River. “We just opened in June, and any company in its first year that goes through something like this, it is going to be a hardship.”

Valvona said the sandwich shop was without electricity for four days. The owner brought in a gas generator and dry ice, but it was just a Band-Aid solution.

“We threw out a lot of stuff,” Valvona said. “Anything that was already prepared and cut – like the lettuce and tomatoes and all the bread that was already made – had to go. If the cold cuts weren’t already open, we could save those.”

Once the store reopened on the Friday after the storm, Valvona said, an emergency delivery from its supplier help get it back up and running again.

“We were fine after that,” she said.

The neighboring La Familia pizza shop showed similar resiliency.

“We were down for three or four days, but we stayed open,” said Cade Rogers, a La Familia employee. “We have propane ovens, so we were able to keep making pizzas. We couldn’t make anything in the kitchen though, like chicken or pasta dishes.”

Perishable items were shipped off to nearby La Familia locations that still had power, while the store’s sauce and pizza dough production was outsourced until the power returned. As night descended, employees used flashlights to find their way around the kitchen and make the pizzas.

“It was kind of exciting,” Rogers said. “But business was kind of slow because people didn’t know we were open and we had no way of advertising.”

Thanks to a gas generator, DeCicco Family Market was able to remain open throughout the entire blackout.

“We lost some frozen food and some dairy, but it could have been a lot worse,” said DeCicco manager Ainsley Brown. “We are able to transfer stuff to our other stores and we had a [refrigerated] truck outside to keep product cool.”

Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream on Route 121 was without power for four days and lost 90 gallons of ice cream, but store owner Barbara Kessler remained unfazed by the loss.

“I’m a positive person,” she said.

Kessler needed to be positive because it was a rough week. She said her husband purchased two gas generators, one for the home and one for the business. The one at home worked just fine, but the one hooked up to the ice cream business proved to be defective.

“We moved as much ice cream to this freezer we have it the back and kept the door closed,” she said. “The temperature never got higher than 10 degrees in there so everything was all right. Unfortunately, we lost everything – 90 gallons – that we had to keep up front.”

Kessler thanked neighboring Cameron’s Deli, which was operating on a generator, for taking her dairy inventory – milk and cream – and keeping it cold until she could reopen.

When she did reopen a week after Sandy passed through, Kessler said, business was sluggish at first.

“It was slow to build back up,” she said. “People were thinking about their losses and weren’t thinking about ice cream. We are hoping that the Thanksgiving holiday will bring [business] back to normal.”

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