Officials in Seaside Heights took another big step in rebuilding the shore town’s hurricane-ravaged boardwalk today, installing the first piece of the new boardwalk.
The ceremony took place at 3 p.m. on Ocean Terrace and Dupont Drive Avenue in front of the Beachcomber Bar. It marks the completion of the first phase of the boardwalk reconstruction in that Ocean City community.
In February, the first pile was driven into the sand to replace boardwalk that was torn apart during the storm. Heavy equipment including a gigantic drill and a pile-driving machine were brought onto the sand and workers quickly began drilling holes in the sand and pounding wooden pilings into them, shaking the ground for blocks around.
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“It’s a positive step forward, it’s a visual reminder that we’re on our way back,” Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers told NBC10’s Ted Greenberg. “The excitement is in the air. You feel like it’s Christmas.”
Seaside Heights’ boardwalk was badly damaged last October after Hurricane Sandy spun into New Jersey. The storm had so much power; it caused an amusement pier to partially collapse, sending a roller coaster into the surf.
The Mayor vows to have Seaside Heights open and ready for business by summer.
“It’s our intention that it looks as close to last summer as humanly possible,” Akers said. The boardwalk rebuilding effort is expected to cost about $7 million. Officials hope at least 75-percent of the cost will be covered by FEMA.
For Ocean County residents who’ve been working hard to come back from Hurricane Sandy, the sight of the rebuilding effort is welcomed.
“I’m very excited to see it happen and come back to life again,” Linda Sodl said. She and her husband came to watch the event. “My grandchildren can’t wait for it to be back and working again.”
"We have a clean washing of the old and we're going to come back bigger, better and brand new," said Michael Carbone, the owner of the Beachcomber Bar.
The boardwalk draws millions of people to the borough every summer, according to officials.