Superstorm Sandy hitting summer rentals on New Jersey shore

Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:25pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Superstorm Sandy shifted the sands of the New Jersey shore's summer rental landscape, where some resort towns are suffering lasting effects of the barrage and others are, as they say, cleaning up.

Summer rentals are a backbone of the tourist season along the 127-mile stretch of coastline and barrier islands, where vacationers flock to the beaches and boardwalks that are convenient to New York and Philadelphia and more affordable than the celebrity-studded Hamptons on New York's Long Island.

Some 59 million people visited the Jersey shore last year, according to state figures.

In Ocean County alone, which is one of the four shore counties and boasts of 44 miles of coastline, the population typically doubles in the summer months to 1.2 million. In some of its small towns, the population grows ten-fold in the summer, according to county statistics.

But this year, that stretch is a patchwork of some towns largely unscathed and others still hurting from the hurricane-force winds and deadly flooding that roared over the coast on October 29, 2012.

Towns that fared better -- those with newer, more storm-resistant elevated construction or artificially engineered dune protection -- are looking ahead to a summer rental season that is as good, if not better, than ever.

Towns that suffered the worst -- where older homes were built on low platforms or even flat on the sand or dunes proved to be weak -- are still early in the throes of reconstruction, and a typical tourist season is a long way off.

Such is the case in Lavalette, which is putting the final touches on its freshly rebuilt boardwalk, and neighboring Ortley Beach, where houses lie toppled onto adjacent properties, roads are ripped up and signs warn non-residents to stay away, said Timothy O'Shea, manager and broker at Birchler Realtors in Ortley Beach.   Continued...

Streets damaged during Hurricane Sandy are seen in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, in this November 10, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Tim Larsen/Governor's Office/Handout