City officials announce smaller evacuation zone, some businesses could be back open Friday

City officials announce smaller evacuation zone, some businesses could be back open Friday
City officials work to secure demolished crane (Source: FOX 8)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Businesses along Canal Street that have been closed since the Hard Rock collapse will likely be able to reopen Friday.

City officials discussed putting the new crane which has been out since Tuesday in place to secure the demolished crane partially hanging over Canal Street.

NOFD Chief Tim McConnell said crews tried to work on stabilizing the crane Thursday but said wind gusts reached higher than 15 miles per hour, which became unsafe for workers.

However, he said crews will be back out early Friday morning to secure the crane and once that's done, some businesses will be back open.

Some business owners in the evacuation area of Canal Street said they've lost a lot of money, and said they're excited about the possibility of being back in business as early as Friday.

"We're going to when this gets approved, we will get all of the businesses on the uptown side on the Canal side open, we'll go half a block on the downtown side of Canal and the businesses on Burgundy as well. There still is a one block closure because of a sewer reroute after the demo of the cranes. We're working with S&WB because it's the last block of Burgundy that's still closed," Director of Homeland Security for New Orleans, Collin Arnold said.

He said street closures will remain, but walkways will be open for pedestrians to go to businesses.

Businesses along the 1000 block of Canal Street sit closed, and have been since the Hard Rock collapse over a month ago.

"It's been about 40 days, over a month, so already a month of rent passed, there's no income at all, like zero since it's been closed," Diva Supply Supply Owner Akram Abdulbaqi said.

Business owners said they've taken a big hit.

“For us, it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Jennifer Weishaupt, Ruby Slipper Cafe Founder and CEO. "It’s just a lot of expenses, things that are on subscription or rental, that you just can’t turn off, and you don’t want to turn it off and then suddenly need it in a few weeks, since it’s been kind of uncertain exactly when we’d be able to reopen.”

They said city officials alerted them about shrinking the evacuation zone Friday.

"We have been given word that we'll have access to our site as early as tomorrow. However, to clarify, there's quite a bit of work that has to be done before we can actually open," Weishaupt said.

"I hope they open the whole block, not just the walkway. What we heard, it's only going to be a walkway," Abdulbaqi said.

Weishaupt said the Ruby Slipper on canal is their second busiest location.

"We have over 50 employees who've been impacted by this, and fortunately, we've been able to offer them opportunities at our other locations," Weishaupt said.

Abdulbaqi said he's had to take on another job in the meantime.

"I do Uber and Lyft for a living right now, to be honest with you," Abdulbaqi said

He said he plans to open doors as soon as he gets the green light from the city.

“Yes, of course. We’ll open right away,” Abdulbaqi said

Wieshaupt said although the Ruby Slipper Cafe didn't suffer damage, they'll have to do a significant amount of cleaning before they open for business.

"We do expect that we'll have to have our heating and ventilation system, and our hood system cleaned very thoroughly wih some pretty significant maintenance, because those systems were operating, and they would have pulled in all of that dust," Wieshaupt said.

McConnell said he believes the weather will be favorable Friday morning for crews to secure the crane.

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