The feel of the sand and the sun; the smell of sunscreen, and the view from the boardwalk carry a huge importance for New Jerseyans and the Garden State's economy. Last year's Superstorm Sandy almost completely destroyed many of the seaside towns, demolishing boardwalks and amusement parks, flooding homes and businesses. The damage was historic, and many feared that over a century of summer traditions would not be back for the following summer. Thanks to federal assistance and rebuilding efforts, those fears have not been realized. All in all, The Jersey Shore has rebounded from the destruction, and New Jerseyans are appreciating the beaches this year more than they likely have in years.
Rebirth for The Shore
Memorial Day marked the official reopening of The Shore after the devastation it experienced post Superstorm Sandy—an estimated $37 billion. The Shore boardwalks and the rides, restaurants and shops that make them world-famous were totaled, destroying a tourist attraction that rakes in roughly $24 billion a year. The Shore, while not completely back at full force (Gov. Chris Christie says 80 percent has been restored), is ready to entertain millions this summer.
The state of New Jersey saw a tremendous amount of rebuilding take place over the last six months, the vast majority of it from federal aid. While several federal agencies have poured millions of dollars into repairing roads, and other crucial infrastructure, federal assistance to private homeowners and businesses also played a large role in recovery. So far, as of late June, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded more than $556 million in recovery funds to shore towns. FEMA recently awarded more than $10 million in Public Assistance grants to Seaside Heights and Spring Lake municipalities to go toward boardwalk repairs. And to the relief of Shore business owners, FEMA announced on June 26th that it will cover 90 percent of recovery and rebuilding costs.
But federal dollars are not the only source for the New Jersey coast's reconstruction. In order to put the Shore back on the map, New Jersey Transit added express summer rail service to The Shore on June 2 in an effort to make the commute to the shore towns easier. Four weekend express trains are now running between New York Penn Station and Long Branch.
A great deal of federal relief went to large public projects like the boardwalk, but relief efforts to rebuild the residential side of The Shore and the rest of New Jersey have also been substantial. As of June 14, $400.5 million in FEMA grants were approved for individuals and households. The National Flood Insurance Program made $3.5 billion in payments on claims as of June 17. Nearly 262,000 people contacted FEMA for help.