One year after Hurricane Sandy caused major destruction and devastation in Seaside Heights, Mayor Bill Akers told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he is grateful that state officials have worked together to help with the recovery process.
Akers said that with one-year anniversary of the storm, he can’t help but remember the work of the first responders that helped make sure that there was no loss of life in his community from Sandy.
There are still residents and homeowners in Seaside Heights that are displaced from the storm. Akers said that the community is unique because about 80 percent of property owners are secondary homeowners. He said it is going to be an ongoing process to get everyone back in their homes because some were under-insured, had no insurance or did not receive FEMA money.
There is construction happening to the boardwalk pier because the top part was torn away in the storm. Seaside Heights was able to get the bottom tier of the boardwalk up and running for the summer of 2013 but now the top tier is being worked on so more rides can be added next year. Akers said that he thinks it is going to be a could of years before the full pier is back.
This year the town took a 30 percent economic hit because property values and businesses were both down 30 percent, Akers said.
“It’s been a tough year but you know the silver lining in all of this is that we were open, we were able to get rebuilt and we were here for business this year,” Akers said.
When it comes to how the government has helped Seaside Heights recover, Akers said, “Working with government, you know that government doesn’t work at lightning speed but when you ask for help and you need so much help to get yourself back up on your feet, you learn to be more patient and be more grateful for the help when it comes.”
Akers said that Gov. Chris Christie has helped Seaside Heights because when he needs something done, it gets done. Akers was also thankful for the help of Sen. Robert Menendez because he battled for Seaside Heights on the Senate floor and let everyone know how much aid the community needed.
“I love that the officials were working together for one good cause and that was to help the entire Jersey Shore recover,” Akers said.