Katrina: After the flood

The three New Orleans companies we profiled after Hurricane Katrina are all fighting to rebuild, but with differing results. Mark Mayer, president of Peter A. Mayer Advertising, says his company is on track for a record year, thanks in part to work related to reconstruction efforts. Ralph Kastner, president of Tuff Equipment Rentals, says demand for his lineup of backhoes and aerial equipment brought sales in the first half of 2006 to $3.3 million -- equal to the 2005 total. A less welcome change is that he says his insurance rates could jump by about 60%.

Loretta Harrison, owner of Loretta's Authentic Pralines, has had a tougher time. She has temporarily closed her store in the French Quarter because foot traffic has yet to pick up sufficiently. The good news: Her second location is up and running, both as a part-time café and her baking headquarters. In July, she finally won approval for a $200,000 loan from the Small Business Administration. Then there's Harrison's unwavering vow: "I'm going to stay."

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