Jersey Shore beaches and boardwalks open and ready for Labor Day weekend
If you picked up a newspaper this week, watched a news broadcast or read many of the local online news services, you would think that the Jersey Shore has been wiped off the map by Hurricane Irene. The truth however is quite contrary. While Irene blasted and flooded local shore communities on the mainland, those along the Atlantic Ocean, particularly in Ocean County came out relatively unscathed. Aside from some minor roadway flooding Sunday and Monday, the four primary destinations along the shore in the county are alive and well and you would be hard pressed to find any storm damage in Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park or Long Beach Island.
Barbara Steele, the Director of Ocean County Public Affairs and Tourism said from Point Pleasant to Long Beach Island, shore businesses and beaches are open and ready to accommodate the Labor Day crowd, despite what’s in the local newspapers. ”I have been getting calls wanting to know if the boardwalks are open because the people think they have no power.” Steele said “The businesses in those areas have already suffered an economic loss of three days plus in prime season. It would be a shame for them to lose business unnecessarily. I’m not sure how Mother Nature selected what she was going to hit the hardest, but I do know we fared better than most in our tourism areas along the coast.”
In Seaside Heights and Seaside Park today, the beaches were full and the boardwalk was bustling under a bright, clear and sunny 80 degree afternoon. Crowds however, were lighter than normal as many believed the region is suffering from power outages. “In Ocean County, virtually everybody in the tourism areas tell me they are up and running. ” Steele added.
Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as the county’s tourism spokesperson, paid a visit to several seaside communities on Thursday, said, ” I have no doubt that Hurricane Irene treated our coastal areas better than most. While some of our inland areas still have problems with power shortages and some flooding, our tourism coastal businesses are up and running. The welcome mat is out, and I encourage everybody who can to enjoy the closing days of summer with us.”
Travel into the barrier islands from Route 72, Route 37 and Route 88 is also unrestricted at this time and unaffected by Hurricane Irene.
Danni Lougue, a manager at Jenkinson’s Aquarium said that despite being located on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, the aquarium, like the rest of the boardwalk was spared from any flooding or damage. Lougue and other volunteers spent the night of the hurricane inside the building in case of power outage to care for the animals there, however the only thing that came was a new addition to the aquarium family. ”While we were preparing for the hurricane, we discovered a new addition. Her name is Irene and she is a map turtle. “ Lougue said.
So if you’re thinking twice about heading down to the Jersey Shore this weekend, it’s going to be business as usual. Steele said normal business operations will be in force along the county’s boardwalks and the beaches are open, clean and ready to accommodate hurricane weary travelers.
New Jersey state officials also re-opened Island Beach State Park during the week and Six Flags Great Adventure also said they are running at 100% despite being in one of the harder hit locations, Jackson Township. Traffic flows unrestricted from Route 195 into the park and no storm damage was reported by Six Flags.
So start making your plans and spend the last week of summer at the Jersey Shore. It’s open for business!
All photos taken 8/31/11. Seaside Heights & Seaside Park.