Jersey Shore Towns Still Struggle in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy
Almost ‘Pleasant” in Pt Pleasant Beach
The sun is shining today on the Jersey Shore. It’s another ‘pleasant’ day; at least to the naked eye. The locals are having breakfast at “I’m A Local”; the diner across Broadway from our home base- The Atlantic motel. Two eggs; toast; home fries; coffee and a smile for $8.55. Hey, make it $10 if you go. Cars are pulling into the nearby 7/11; the shops on the main drag of Arnold Avenue are open for business and another ‘normal’ day begins.
Of course, after an ‘event’ such as Sandy, nothing is ‘normal’ anymore. “Sandy hit during the off-season,” said Doug Bollinger, a local guy and a co-founder with Kim Surowicz and Mike Corbally of Barefoot real estate. “Our office was open but we were under mandatory evacuation. We were in the office the day before getting ready. But I never thought the water would come this far. We had a over a foot of water and had to purchase new furniture. But we were open within a month.”
And the lifeblood of shore towns are the summer house rentals. “The situation has improved from the beginning of the selling season,” said Bollinger. “But it’s still down from past seasons. We represent over 100 homeowners in the community. Depending on the damage and personal finances of the owner, some clients were up and ready after a month; others are still not ready. If a homeowner had the ability to rebuild without having to wait for insurance, that allowed for a quicker rental. A major concern from summer rental clients is ongoing construction.” (In a bit of irony, Doug’s dog is named Sandy. “I’m glad I have the dog or else I might have stayed during the storm. I ended up wit my parents in nearby Neptune.”)
Arnold Avenue and Broadway are two of the lowest points; so even a heavy rain can cause flooding. The new homes that were built higher were fine; the older homes were not. And much of the damage can’t be seen from street level. One needs to go into the homes. And some folks are selling and leaving; but others want to move here.
Towns such as Seaside Heights are still in ruins. (Kim lost her own home in Point Pleasant Beach. “I was lucky because I know so many people in town and was able to stay in homes they were trying to rent out,” she said. “I’ve been in four homes since Sandy while waiting to rebuild my own.”
For John Hurler and his family, “$20,000 in lost linen costs’ just scratched the surface. The family owns various properties, including The Atlantic motel and all were affected by Sandy. “We spent about a month cleaning up our properties after Sandy and received almost no help from either the state or Federal government” said Hurler. “ And we are not covered by flood insurance. We’ve applied for a small business loan but that is a LOAN; with interest. Mainly, we used our American Express cards to pay for replacing damaged equipment in our properties. I like Governor Christie but having President Obama tour the area with the Governor after Memorial Day did nothing to help small businesses.”
Finally, the town is not in a ‘pleasant’ mood’ after it was given a ‘negative’ by major rating agency Moody’s.
The negative outlook reflects liquidity challenges facing the borough as it covers significant reconstruction costs and expected declines in beach-related revenues and property tax revenues following Hurricane Sandy.
The A1 rating reflects the borough’s moderately-sized, residential, and seasonal tax base with a manageable debt burden that is expected to grow over the near term.
-Weakened liquidity resulting from Hurricane Sandy clean-up and reconstruction costs
-Steep 24% decline in assessed values taking affect in fiscal 2013
-Seasonally dependant tax base
-Deferred charge due to storm damage
The negative outlook reflects liquidity challenges facing the borough as it covers significant reconstruction costs and expected decline in beach-related revenues and property tax revenues following Hurricane Sandy. (source- Moody’s)
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