May 25, 2013

In Focus: Rebuilt Jersey shore hopes for no erosion in tourism

In the wake of remarkable recovery efforts, the area is open for business and ready for summer visitors.

By WAYNE PARRY The Associated Press

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Daryl Gottilla, left, and his wife, Denise, sit on storm-damaged Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., on May 10. “The houses took a beating, but I’m pleased with how the beach looks,” she said. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

The Associated Press

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Want to help? Then vacation at the Jersey shore, one mayor says.

The Associated Press

Sue Sineradzki of Newtown, Pa., is doing just that.

"There was never a question of not coming back," she said. "Even if there was no boardwalk here, we would come back. There are families that have been coming here forever. I think it's going to be a great summer here. It's the Jersey shore, The people are great and they've worked hard to build it back. That's what's going to make it extra special this year."

Anthony Baldino's balloon dart game on the Seaside Heights boardwalk was wrecked by Sandy. For this summer, he literally took his business to the streets, setting up at the curb.

"I think it's going to be a terrible summer. This is my building," he said, gesturing toward the boardwalk. "It got wiped out and it's going to take a long time to rebuild."

Point Pleasant Beach's amusement rides were unhurt by the storm, and the half of the boardwalk that was damaged in the storm has been replaced; two mini golf courses that were wrecked have not been rebuilt. On Long Beach Island, the Fantasy Island Amusement Park is also up and running.

To the north, Keansburg Amusement Park has also rebuilt.

Most of the Jersey shore's boardwalks don't have amusement rides or games; they consist of wooden or synthetic walkways carrying beachgoers from one end of the beach to the other. Belmar finished its boardwalk repairs first, in late April, Seaside Heights is not far behind, Asbury Park is done and numerous other towns have either finished or plan to do so by Friday. Even the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, which was devastated by the storm, started rebuilding its boardwalk two weeks ago and expects to have it open by June.

The beaches themselves may look fine in most places, but many are flatter than they once were, said Jon Miller, a coastal expert with Stevens Institute of Technology. He predicted the coast will remain vulnerable to future storms until much of the sand that was lost either returns naturally with the tides, or is physically put back on the beaches by heavy equipment, and beach replenishment and protective dune projects need to be carried out. He also said dangerous rip currents could appear this year in places they didn't use to be, due to the changed topography of the ocean floor.

And for all the attention on boardwalks and tourists, this summer will be marked by long, hard work for many shore residents still struggling to recover. Andrea Bowne is elevating her home near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach, which took on three feet of water during the storm. Since then, she has moved from place to place, longing for the day she can go back home.

"Hopefully they'll be done soon and we can be working on the interior all summer," she said. "I say I'm moving back in as soon as there's electric and cable."


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