| AVON-BY-THE-SEA, N.J., March 27
AVON-BY-THE-SEA, N.J., March 27 As the spring
sun glinted off the Atlantic Ocean at the tiny resort town of
Avon-by-the-Sea, a small brown and white dog raced gleefully
down the empty beach.
"He's the only one getting anything done," muttered a
scowling hard-hat worker, frustrated over the pace of rebuilding
the town's boardwalk, which was demolished by Superstorm Sandy.
The Jersey shore, a 127-mile (204 km) stretch of beaches,
small communities and kitschy icons, remains largely in
shambles, with the traditional Memorial Day start to the summer
season a mere two months away.
The four counties along the Jersey shore account for half of
the state's tourism and travel industry, which in 2012 generated
a record of nearly $40 billion in revenue, according to the New
Jersey Amusement Association.
When Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, 2012, it submerged much
of the Jersey shore in seawater and damaged or destroyed 346,000
houses statewide, taking a financial toll of nearly $37 billion,
according to official statistics.
Ruined houses still lie on their sides, dunes are washed
away and seaside snack shacks are boarded up as repairs advance
in fits and starts.
In Avon, workers rebuilding the boardwalk ran into large
rocks under the beach that slowed progress, but officials said
the project is back on track to meet the start of summer.
Lingering winter weather has hindered efforts to reopen the
popular amusement park in Seaside Heights, officials said, while
many homeowners are still waiting for payments from insurance
policies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
before they can rebuild or even clean up.
"I think we're going to have a fantastic summer. It's just
not going to be the summer we're used to," restaurant owner Mike
Jurusz said. "There's not a lot of places and things for people
to do the way there was before."
Jurusz, whose oceanfront restaurant Chef Mike's ABG in
Seaside Park is open, said he is waging a radio and social media
campaign to coax people to visit the battered barrier island.
"People think the island is not open," he said.
Helping him along will be a $30 million advertising campaign
to help revive shore tourism. The ads, to begin in April, will
be announced by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Tourist dollars in 2012 accounted for 7 percent of the gross
domestic product in New Jersey. Visitors seek out the beaches,
boardwalks and attractions such as Wacky Golf in Seaside Heights
and Madam Marie's fortune-telling booth in Asbury Park, given
eternal fame in the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song.
"For a lot of people, it's sad for them to see places that
they know that aren't there anymore," Jurusz said.
Even with rebuilt boardwalks to stroll along, visitors will
find themselves without such amenities as eateries, observed
longtime Belmar resident Joseph Momich.
"It's all sand," the retired floor layer said. "When the
people come, where are they going to eat?"
In Mantoloking, some 40 homes are waiting to be demolished,
and another 100 are awaiting debris removal that won't be
completed until mid-June, said Chris Nelson, a resident and
special counsel to the barrier island town of 528 houses.
One house sits partially submerged in Barnegat Bay.
"The ocean washed over the entire length of the town,"
Only about 30 families have moved back, and fewer than 200
are expected back by summer, he said.
"The psyche has to come back. Emotionally we have to bring
people back," said Stephen Acropolis, the mayor of Brick, where
thousands of homes were flooded.
"People have to see progress. They have to see homes being
repaired in their neighborhoods," Acropolis said.
Brick's historic Camp Osborn, a collection of more than 100
bungalows on the site of a former tent camp that dated to the
1920s, burned to the ground due to Sandy damage.
Larger houses bear red spray-painted slashes denoting their
destiny for demolition. Boats using side-scan sonar are hauling
submerged debris, recently including a Mercedes Benz, from
Barnegat Bay to make it safe for boating.
In Lavalette, where Mayor Walter LaCicero estimates 95
percent of homeowners suffered storm damage, a curfew remains in
effect in the largely deserted town.
Nevertheless, LaCicero said, "We will be ready when summer
In boisterous Seaside Heights, known for its arcades and
amusement park rides, the broken skeleton of the Jet Star roller
coaster still lies in the ocean, as do three other rides swept
into the waves.
Efforts to remove them are in the works, according to
officials at Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach.
About half of the rides on the pier, which once offered 35
such dizzying attractions, should be open by Memorial Day, they
A lack of electricity is hampering efforts to reopen the
games of chance arcade and get rides such as Pirate's Hideaway,
Moby Dick and Disk'O up and spinning again, said Lou Cirigliano,
director of operations for Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach.
"We're trying," Cirigliano said. "We really want to be