By BRIANNA SICILIANO and CAROLINE GAVURA Photo/Video Editor & Section Editor
In Seaside Heights, only nine months after Super-storm Sandy, an electrical fire started by faulty wires in a Kohr’s Frozen Custard shop burned down a large portion of the boardwalk.
Prior to the fire, most of the boardwalk had been reconstructed. The roller coaster was pulled out of the ocean, debris was picked up, and amusement rides were repaired. It seemed like Seaside was on its way back to how it used to be – a family-friendly vacation destination for lots of fun.
However, on September 12, 2013, flames engulfed four blocks of the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, and all the recovery efforts previously made were ruined.
“We’re moving as swiftly and aggressively as we can to help these communities and their boardwalk businesses rebuild from this unfortunate stumbling block to our overall Sandy recovery,” said Governor Christie. “The extensive damage to the remaining structures is a safety hazard, so it’s important they are removed quickly. By alleviating the costs associated with the debris removal process, state, county, and local officials as well as private entities can get down to work immediately to restore one of the Jersey Shore’s most iconic boardwalk.”
While a good portion of the boardwalk was damaged, many businesses were still open and functioning. The devastated business owners have concerns about their future customers. With a broken boardwalk, Seaside Heights will lose many tourists.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Seaside, but I feel like if I go visit the beach now, it’ll just be depressing. I don’t want to be reminded about all the devastation the town is suffering,” said junior Corinne Franchette.
The State Department of Community Affairs (DCA) are checking which buildings on the Boardwalk are unsafe and need to be demolished. Officials will inspect the properties, and once they are determined unsafe, the town can demolish the building in as few as 24 hours after contacting the owners.
In addition, when the demolition and clearance of the debris is complete, DCA and the New Jersey Economic Development of Authority (NJEDA) will work with local business to plan the full Sandy recovery including post-fire redevelopment.
“The extensive damage caused by Thursday’s fire has made the Seaside community’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy all the more difficult,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “To help Seaside Park and Seaside Heights overcome this major setback, we are allocating existing CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to assist with debris removal and demolition. Additionally, we will continue to work closely with local construction code officials in determining which fire-damaged buildings are now unsafe and thus must be torn down. My Department is fully committed to supporting these communities throughout their recovery and rebuilding efforts after Sandy and the fire.”
The state will analyze the duplication of benefits and make sure the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery-DR funds are used only to cover costs not already paid by other sources, such as insurance.
“I hope all of the buildings and businesses will be repaired by summertime. With the devastation over the past few years, the Jersey Shore is in need of some positivity. When the boardwalk is repaired, local business owners will have more customers and the devastation will all be in the past,” said sophomore Toni Rothchild.
Will you be visiting Seaside this summer?