Seaside business owners seek N.J. help to — once again — rebuild

 The Seaside Park devastation. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

The Seaside Park devastation. (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Small-business owners are seeking assistance from New Jersey to rebuild from last week’s fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

Business owners met with representatives of the Christie administration at the Seaside Heights Municipal Complex Monday to find out what help is available.

Angie Lombardi, who leased a mini arcade in Seaside Park that was destroyed by the fire, said she’s looking for grants to help her get back in business.

“Any funding. Anything that will help just for us to rebuild and even the boardwalk,” she said. “I mean my friends have lost a lot. They’ve come back from one [catastrophe], all of us, and we just want to come back.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The business owners are hoping to rebuild as quickly as they can, said Maureen Stankowitz, president of the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.

“I think they’re going to work on it just the way they worked on Sandy,” she said. “They’re going to start as soon as they find out what their insurance money is going to bring them. They’re going to get right back into it.”

Business owners who had their shops and eateries destroyed by fire so soon after they were overhwelmed with Superstorm Sandy’s floodwaters were understandably dejected.

Guy Lanza, who leased a restaurant that was destroyed by the fire, said he is not sure if the landlord will decide to rebuild so he can get back in business at that end of the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

“We’ll all be back, but when? Two years? Three years? How many people are going to be unemployed? How many people are not going to have jobs? How many people are not going to have a Christmas this year?” Lanza said. “It was tough holding it in through Sandy. This is even tougher.”

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal