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Pushing through power outages: Businesses in New Orleans empty thawing refrigerators

“I will never put my family through this again. The heat, the traffic, now trying to find nothing to eat… It’s ridiculous, it is, it’s ridiculous,” she said.

NEW ORLEANS — It’s tough to find any businesses open in New Orleans without any power, but some were able to make it work on Monday.

Business owners know that time is running out for a product that needs to stay cold, and people know it could be tough to get a hot meal. 

By lantern light, the staff at New York Pizza on Magazine Street cut cheese by hand. The machine that usually does it runs on electricity.

Owner Susan Del Corral kept serving anyway.

“We’re serving pizza, we’re serving beer and water and coke. And we’re doing… it’s good,” she said. “I’ve emptied my ice chest. My ice machine is completely empty, so no more ice.”

Del Corral knew what was in the fridge at the pizza shop – sauce, cheese, and homemade dough – wouldn’t be good for long. She opened the doors and began feeding the neighborhood for cheap, cash only.

She does not know when they’ll be back open with the lights on.

“I mean, our heart’s been in it for 41 years,” she said, choking up.

Off North Claiborne Avenue, the line at Manchu Food Store stretched around the block. The store ran on generator power to offer a hot meal to the community, something many were struggling to find.

Danielle Banks had four family members, including two children, in the car with her on Monday as she waited for food.

“I will never put my family through this again. The heat, the traffic, now trying to find nothing to eat… It’s ridiculous, it is, it’s ridiculous,” she said.

At Courtyard Brewing, warm beer was served by headlamp. Owner Scott Wood was giving away IPAs and ice cream, which was melting in the freezers.

Strangers from around the neighborhood swapped storm stories on the outdoor patio.

“I think a lot of us have reflected on how bad other neighborhoods had it, and other parts of the state did, and we didn’t. And we just feel terrible for them. Like, it’s just bad all around,” said Wood.

The storm is another setback for restaurants that are already struggling after a difficult 18 months, fighting to keep the doors open during the pandemic.

Wood says he’s thankful to have gone through it in New Orleans.

“I couldn’t imagine having gone through the last two years in any other city that didn’t have the levity that we have. That didn’t have the neighborliness that we have. We take care of one another and I think that’s what makes the difference here,” he said.

Entergy has said first, it will be restoring power to places like hospitals and nursing homes, and then will move on to the tens of thousands of people across Louisiana who are still in the dark

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