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After superstorm Sandy, Jersey Shore priming for Memorial Day weekend

The Jersey Shore has been rebuilding since Sandy, and on Memorial Day weekend, merchants hope that tourists come for a dash in the surf and a walk along the boardwalk to spend some money.

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Prince Harry also visited Mantoloking, only a short distance north of Seaside Heights on a barrier island, to see homes that have crumbled along the shoreline. Mantoloking made news after Sandy because the ocean breached the island, creating a new inlet. The US Army Corps of Engineers worked 24 hours a day to get 3,300 truckloads of sand into the breach.

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Mantoloking had 60 homes washed away, and municipal clerk Irene Ryan says there could be another 100 to 150 homes that need to be demolished. Residents have been warned that visiting the beach is dangerous, she says: There are no wood walkways down to the water, and the beaches are experiencing strong riptides.

“There is still a lot of debris in the ocean,” Ms. Ryan says. “Things are still washing in.”

Further north in Monmouth County, Ocean Grove lost a portion of its boardwalk to Sandy. The force of the storm also destroyed the community’s fishing pier. A person answering phones for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which has an affiliation with the United Methodist Church, says that the beaches will be open for the Memorial Day weekend and that parts of the boardwalk are also operational.

It’s not clear when the damaged parts of the boardwalk will get rebuilt because the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Ocean Grove federal funding. Ocean Grove is appealing the decision.

Just north of Ocean Grove, merchants on the boardwalk at Asbury Park say most of them will be ready for the start of summer.

“We’ve had to replace all our plumbing, all our appliances, all our electric wires, and now everything is brand new,” says Eddie Catalano, whose boardwalk shop named Eddie Confetti sells ice cream and coffee.

He estimates that during Sandy, his shop had about three feet of water inside. But he has cleaned it up, repainted everything, and is just waiting for the crowds. “We’re ready to do business,” he says.

To a lesser extent that would be true of Sea Bright, a town about 10 miles north. During Sandy, the ocean flooded over the community and joined up with the Shrewsbury River.

According to a town clerk who asked to be referred to only as Chris, many of the 1,412 residents have not returned yet. “I don’t know if we would be more than 50 percent occupied at this point,” she says.

Many of the beach clubs fronting on the ocean there were destroyed. But they all expect to open – even if in a limited fashion – for Memorial Day weekend. “Some will be less functioning than others,” the clerk says.

In the middle of Sea Bright, the United Methodist Church in town is open and glad to tell that to the residents and visitors. A large sign draped across the front of the church proclaims, “Praise God! We are open! All are welcome!”

The church sustained about $200,000 in damage from the storm, says Pastor Michael Turner, who will hold services this Sunday. He views Sea Bright’s recovery as an opportunity to help other storm-ravaged areas, such as Moore, Okla., which is picking up the pieces after Monday’s tornado.

“We received hope from Katrina,” he says of the rebuilding that took place after the hurricane devastated the Gulf Coast. “Now it’s up to us to rebuild, to pass on that hope,” he says.


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