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After Sandy, lower Manhattan limps back to life

Published: Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 11:24 a.m. CST

NEW YORK (AP) — The hum of massive mobile generators, boilers and pumps emerges blocks from Manhattan’s Financial District and turns into a steady din south of Wall Street — the now-familiar sound of an area laboring to recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Other parts of the city have gotten mayoral visits and media attention after the Oct. 29 storm killed dozens of residents and tore apart homes in coastal neighborhoods. Less obvious were the millions upon million gallons of sea water that wreaked havoc on subterranean electrical panels and other internal infrastructure throughout lower Manhattan, making them unusable even after power was restored to the area.

“There were waves on Wall Street, and it all ended up here,” Mike Lahm, a building engineer who rode out the storm at 120 Wall Street, said during a recent tour of the skyscraper’s basement.

Nearly a month later, some of the high-rises that are home to investment banks, large law firms and luxury apartments have bounced back quickly. But others buildings remain eerily dark and vacant.

Landlords have warned full power won’t be back for weeks, if not months, leaving businesses and residents displaced and uncertain about when — and even whether — they’ll return. JP Morgan Chase, the Daily News and the American Civil Liberties Union are among tenants still operating in satellite locations after getting washed out of their headquarters in lower Manhattan.

Heavy flooding also hit a complex of multimillion-dollar apartments along the Hudson River, whose well-heeled owners — reportedly including Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep — could quietly retreat to second or third homes on higher and drier ground.

“What you’re looking at here is a mass exodus,” downtown resident Gail Strum said as she retrieved some files and other belongings from a rental apartment building that’s still without power. “It feels like there’s no coming back.”

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