August 18, 2003
By Maxy Sosa
The bodega and supermarket owners of upper Manhattan
want to know: Who is going to help them recuperate the thousands
of dollars in
damages caused by the blackout on Thursday?.
Yesterday, a group
of negotiators, accompanied by the councilmember for District 10,
Miguel Martinez, sent a clear message to the federal,
state, and local authorities: "Don't leave us in the dark
at the moment we need your help the most, to get out of the economic
crisis that the blackout created."
A living example of the
critical situation in which small businesses find themselves, is
illustrated by Jacinto Abreu, owner of the
supermarket Super Extra located on the corner of Broadway and 160th
Street, who said that the losses for his business will be around
It is not likely that the businesses will try to get the
insurance companies to compensate them for their losses since blackouts
not covered by insurance policies.
"The businesses are already in a very difficult situation
and this blackout knocked us to the ground," said Abreu, while
he watched some customers choosing fresh products for sale.
to the retailer, much of the merchandise damaged by the lack of
refrigeration was gathered by the city garbage trucks,
while the chicken and ground meat was taken by a company that collects
The list of the losses for Abreu's business is
long and includes more than 50 milk boxes that had to be poured
down the sewer, the
juice, yogurt, and cheese, and bananas, which with the excessive
heat and the lack of refrigeration, turned so black that nobody
would buy them.
Abreu said, "What we hope is that the government
does something, I hope that, for example, president George W. Bush
says who is
going to resolve this."
Councilmember Martinez referred to
$800 million in losses from the blackout that the city estimates,
and emphasized that "we
must be careful not to leave the side of small business owners
who have been strongly effected by this situation."
made a call to the federal, state, and local government agencies
to ask for assistance for the merchants in the form of
subventions and low interest.
"Since the federal government had to intervene and to declare
a state of emergency, we want the federal government to act through
the agency FEMA to assist the small retailers," indicated
Quenia Abreu, president of the New York Women's Commercial
Committee (NYWCC), who also participated in the conference yesterday,
that the group she represents also faces a difficult situation.
"We are communicating with the office of the mayor, and they
told us that first they have to see where the problem came from
to determine what it is that they can do in terms of aid for businesses
and for residents," said Abreu.
The president of the NYWCC
added that her organization is offering information to merchants,
whether or not they are members, about
the steps that should be taken to solicite aid from the Small
Those interested should contact the Committee
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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte