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Wall Street Gets Back to Business, But For How Long?

Tickers in this article: SLG BPO

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What happened to all the water?

Biking around Manhattan's Financial District, just a few days after Hurricane Sandy, I strained to find signs of the disaster.

There were fewer cars and people than usual, but far more than one might expect, given that the hurricane was the largest tropical system ever measured in the Atlantic. The Brooklyn Bridge was packed with pedestrians, so much so that I had to use my bell repeatedly to get across as walkers drifted into the cycling lane.

In the Financial District, in lower Manhattan, most businesses were closed, and there were lots of Con Edison trucks and emergency vehicles. In three locations, each about 15 blocks apart, giant trucks pumped water out of flooded office buildings. Still, lower Manhattan felt very much under control.

The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday had reopened for trading after a two-day shutdown, and floor brokers were low-key and unemotional.

When I asked her to compare the resumption of trading after Sandy to her return to the exchange after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Doreen Mogavero, CEO of Mogavero Lee & Co., saw few parallels.

"Today is not a big deal. For me, it wasn't that personal," she said, adding that she would have stayed home if coming in had been inconvenient. Following the 9/11 attacks, she and many others on the NYSE floor knew people who had been killed, and they were determined to honor the colleagues they had lost.

"I would have crawled through glass to get here," Mogavero said.

Ben Willis, a veteran trader at Albert Fried & Co., was similarly nonchalant about trading in Sandy's wake.

"The most unusual part of today for me was the drive in from the Lincoln Tunnel -- from 30th Street down to Greenwich in the darkness and no stoplights. The only lights I saw were the flashing lights of the New York Police Department, but other than that, it was very dark. Very unusual." After that, however, "the rest of the day was pretty much standard fare," Willis said.

No one I saw was visibly in a panic or even stressed out.

Hira Lesea was tired, though. She'd been working from 8 a.m. to 5 pm at the NYC Love Street Coffee Truck, a friendly gathering spot for coffee addicts that stands outside the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall St. Lesea guesses she served about 1,000 people Wednesday instead of the usual 500 to 600.

"A lot of people were really thankful, really happy that we were here. You don't realize that there's a lot of people that live down here and need coffee. Very different customers than we normally have. Nobody going to work, really. I had maybe four or five regulars. That's it," she said.