SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (KDKA) – Tourists heard the coast was clear and they have returned to the Jersey Shore to find the Boardwalk the way they’ve always remembered it.
“We didn’t know what we were coming to this summer, but they said come on down its fine and it is,” Jo Meehan said.
The frozen custard at Kohr Brothers tastes just as good. The enticing smell of Manco and Manco’s Pizza has people lining up like before.
“I’m always here for the pizza. Love the Pizza,” Gretchen Barnhart said.
It’s a testament to perseverance of the residents and business owners.
“Couple of weeks getting sand out of here, but it was great. We’re back. We’ve been back,” Manco and Manco’s Manager Tony Polcini said.
The beach, which was largely swept away to the sea by Hurricane Sandy, has been restored by dredges that pumped in sand from off shore.
“The way they replenished the place is unbelievable. It’s a great thing,” Pat Tesche said.
Returning Pittsburghers are finding little evidence of Sandy’s wraith.
“It came back. You’d never know anything happened here,” Doug Bozick said.
Still, in many ways, restoring the beachfront has been the easy part for New Jersey. The harder task is addressing the need of the people who have lost their homes.
On the Boardwalk, aid workers continue to ask for help.
“It’s difficult for a lot of people. Even though people are back in the businesses, there are still a lot of people affected by it,” Mike Sees from New Jersey Hope and Healing said.
In Stone Harbor, the dunes saved the town from the tidal surge, but most of the beach was swept away, leaving only sheer cliffs.
But since last fall, the state has begun spending close to a $100 million to dredge sand off the coast and replenish beaches up and down the coast.
When KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan toured the area in the immediate aftermath of the storm, some roadways were mangled, such as the one leading to the bridge connecting Avalon and Sea Isle City. However, that road has been restored and traffic is moving freely.
The now multi-billion dollar federal effort was tasked with clearing the road in Sea Isle City, which was only passable by bulldozer. Today, it too has been cleared and seasonal residents are back in their summer homes.
“We got lucky. We got absolutely lucky,” Erica Schmid said.
The seamless start of the season is a testament to those who worked hard all winter and spring.
“The city really pulled together and really came through, but it’s a great place to be Sea Isle City,” Anthony DiAntonio said.
Returning vacationers are finding the shore just the way they left it.