After Hurricane Sandy devastated portions of the Jersey Shore, officials and business owners have worked to ensure shore beaches and businesses were open for the summer season. In Seaside Heights, Mayor Bill Akers told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he’s encouraged by the Memorial Day crowds and hopes all areas of New Jersey’s coast are prospering.
Akers said as soon as the sun came out, the crowds returned to the Seaside Heights boardwalk. “I had a couple conversations going down the boardwalk and people just seem so excited that they’re able to be up here walking,” he said.
After having to work to rebuild from Sandy’s damage and fighting the misconception that the Jersey Shore was closed, Akers said he was cautiously optimistic that tourists would return. “You cross your fingers and you hope that people will support all the Jersey shores — Seaside Heights and everybody up and down the coast. And I would hope that every community is doing as well as Seaside Heights is today,” Akers said.
At Seaside Heights, Akers said all businesses on the south side of the boardwalk are open. On the north end of the boardwalk, he said about half are open. “They got hit a lot harder, little bit more work to do there but I know that their intention is to get open and they’ll be open when the season really does kick off,” he said.
According to Akers, the main reason for the slow return by businesses is the extent of the damage sustained. He explained that the first breach occurred on the north side of the boardwalk. He said he also believes business owners have had some issues with the insurance money.
The restaurant Akers’ family owns — Bobber’s Family Restaurant — is one of the businesses that is back up and running in Seaside Heights. He said this Memorial Day weekend is one of the best his restaurant has seen. “The people were thrilled to be back in. We were thrilled to receive them and it was nice to get the juices flowing. Everybody there, they’re smiling, we’re smiling,” he said.
Seaside Heights got international attention for the Jet Star roller coaster that Hurricane Sandy threw into the ocean and for Prince Harry’s visit to the area. Akers said his municipality has had positive results from the media attention.
“I think Seaside Heights benefited greatly from the kindness of all the journalism, all the people whether it be press, whether it be TV, whether it be radio,” he said. “I think Seaside Heights has benefited greatly. And we’re very blessed and very lucky.”