Jersey Shore Communities Scramble To Get Ready For Summer Season [AUDIO]
With Memorial Day Weekend fast approaching, Jersey shore towns hard hit by Sandy are scrambling to complete beach restoration projects.
“We’re making every effort to make sure that the beaches are open and that we experience as close to normal summer for our residents and visitors alike,” says Seaside Park Mayor Bob Matthies.
He points out that crews have been dune-grass planting, cleaning and shifting tons of sand that blew off the beach during the Superstorm almost 6 months ago.
The mayor of nearby Seaside Heights also reports good progress is being made.
“This week we’re going to go through again with another rake – make sure we’re getting all the debris out of the sand of what we didn’t get in the other cleanups,” says Bill Akers.
He vows they’ll be 100 percent open, not only for the summer season, but even for Memorial Day Weekend, a month from now.
“We’ll be open, we’ll be ready,” he says “We hope you come down and see all the hard work that a lot of good people did.”
In Lavallette, officials also say it’ll be business as usual for the summer, although visitors will notice the beach will be a bit smaller than it usually is.
However, some Jersey Shore communities especially hard-hit by Sandy are still struggling.
Toms River mayor Tom Kelaher points out a good stretch of sand on the beach in Ortley Beach was literally blown across the entire area, so extensive beach restoration continues.
He predicts a partial beach opening by the beginning of July.
“How good it’s going to be – a lot depends on Mother Nature, so I’m going to be very careful to say that because I don’t want to make false promises. The beach is pretty well beat up and there’s not a hell of a lot of beach available right now.”
As the towns continue their work, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and its contractors are patrolling the coastline – in the air and in boats equipped with sonar – locating and removing debris from the water.
DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese says great progress has been made and most Shore areas will be in excellent shape for the summer, but “we’re still trying to tell people beware – Sandy did occur.”