After a disaster, the immediate focus of government officials and ordinary citizens is saving lives and providing food and shelter to those who have lost everything. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, that’s what countless small businesspeople in New York City and New Jersey did—people like Rob and Matt Freed. With their business partner, Bernard Hilzenrath, the Freeds spent days in hard-hit areas, such as Midland Beach in Staten Island—the location of Pet Foods Plus, their flooded store—helping friends clear out flooded basements and first floors. Through it all, concern about their own livelihood was never far from mind.

Pictured, the contents of a Staten Island home await removal.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

After a disaster, the immediate focus of government officials and ordinary citizens is saving lives and providing food and shelter to those who have lost everything. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, that’s what countless small businesspeople in New York City and New Jersey did—people like Rob and Matt Freed. With their business partner, Bernard Hilzenrath, the Freeds spent days in hard-hit areas, such as Midland Beach in Staten Island—the location of Pet Foods Plus, their flooded store—helping friends clear out flooded basements and first floors. Through it all, concern about their own livelihood was never far from mind.

Pictured, the contents of a Staten Island home await removal.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Staten Island Starts Over After Sandy

After a disaster, the immediate focus of government officials and ordinary citizens is saving lives and providing food and shelter to those who have lost everything. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, that’s what countless small businesspeople in New York City and New Jersey did—people like Rob and Matt Freed. With their business partner, Bernard Hilzenrath, the Freeds spent days in hard-hit areas, such as Midland Beach in Staten Island—the location of Pet Foods Plus, their flooded store—helping friends clear out flooded basements and first floors. Through it all, concern about their own livelihood was never far from mind.

Pictured, the contents of a Staten Island home await removal.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Left, a patio umbrella shades a car destroyed by the floodwaters; right, a beach parking lot is now a dumping ground for waste created by the storm.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

A man with a wheelbarrow clears debris from a house on Liberty Avenue.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

At Patterson and Midland avenues, Salvation Army volunteers deliver food in a shopping cart.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Across Midland Avenue from Pet Foods Plus, a relief stand distributes donated supplies.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

A field on Mill Road was transformed into a makeshift support site; a military serviceman walks between school buses back to his post.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Left, a house down the block from Pet Foods Plus; right, a woman stands outside her Midland Avenue home, in front of a toppled toolshed.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweel

Betty Matos, who lives on Father Capodanno Boulevard, cleans an oil painting of her ex-husband.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Norman, a Staten Island resident, looks into Pet Foods Plus, where donated clothing has piled up.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Rob Freed and his brother Matt (background) survey the damage inside their Pet Foods Plus store on Nov. 18.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

Left, a turkey crossing Father Capodanno Boulevard; right, a boarded-up house on a side street, a few blocks from the shore.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

The front doors of Pet Foods Plus were knocked out by the storm, and people began to put donated clothing there, next to rotting pet food.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek

A stranded truck on the beach off Father Capodanno Boulevard.

Photograph by Irina Rozovsky for Bloomberg Businessweek