More than two months after Superstorm Sandy, the barrier islands in Ocean County are now fully open. But that doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal.
It was the end of October when Superstorm Sandy did its worst to coastal New Jersey, wiping out the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and destroying homes and businesses.
Now residents of Seaside and some other Ocean County coastal towns don’t have to leave at night. Residents with a certificate of continued occupancy can now stay permanently in their homes for the first time since Sandy hit. Businesses, meanwhile, will be permitted to stay open past 4 p.m.
That’s great news as far as restaurant owner Michael Carbone is concerned. Carbone, whose Beachcomber Bar and Grille sits where the boardwalk used to be, says it’s been a ghost town since Sandy hit.
“It’s still pretty much of a ghost town, but people are populating the town more and more,” he said Monday. “Even though the town has been open during the day with a curfew for the past two weeks, people have been afraid to come over the bridge. Now people aren’t afraid to chance coming over the bridge because the town is open.”
Construction of a new boardwalk in Seaside Heights is expected to be finished by May.
Further up the coast in Mantoloking, however, residents such as Pamela Formichella say it could be another year before she is back in her home.
“It’s been a slow go trying to get contractors in first to remove everything,” she said. “We have to have all the walls ripped out, the flooring ripped out, the electric redone.”
Most residents, she said, “aren’t anywhere past getting anything ripped out.”
Mantoloking’s website says officials still aren’t ready to publish even the procedures for contractors to be certified to enter the borough. Residents still are still allowed to enter with a specially issued badge only between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. despite the county’s relaxing of restrictions elsewhere.