Ocean City: Businesses ready for tourists, homes nearly so
Holly Kisby sees the two faces of post-Sandy Ocean City every day.
Kisby is the general manager of Shriver's salt water taffy and fudge shop on the Boardwalk, a year-round attraction that reopened a few days after the storm flooded the entire island. The basement at Shriver's flooded and some pipes were damaged, but the interior of the store remained mostly dry and has been open since.
The same can be said about almost every other business along the Boardwalk in Ocean City. Businesses along Asbury Avenue experienced far more flooding than the oceanfront commercial properties, but almost every store there also has remediated and reopened since.
"Boardwalk-wise, I think everybody's here," Kisby said. "We had the gorgeous dunes that I think stopped a lot of damage to the Boardwalk itself and the businesses."
In other words, Ocean City is open for business.
Kisby, however, said she sees that many homeowners are only now cleaning out their residential properties.
"Block by block are those PODS" - Portable On Demand Storage containers - "and you know that people are just getting started," she said.
Visitors may notice this, too, and there is a possibility some houses might be demolished during the summer. City Council is in the process of allowing such activity in the summer, which is normally forbidden, to expedite property owners' recovery efforts. Still, it is unlikely there would be many such projects.
As for the beaches, they will be much wider after a beach-replenishment project on the north end finishes around Memorial Day. But they will be thinner than last year in the south end, due to erosion. The city is trucking in sand to widen those beaches and build up dunes.
As with much of Cape May County, the major concern heading into the season is that visitors do not realize how relatively normal the resort is six months after the storm.
"You'd be surprised about the phone calls we get," said Frank Shoemaker, general manager at Berger Realty. "People want to know if the Boardwalk is going to be rebuilt. People want to know if the rides are in the water."
The unequivocal answer is that tourists should notice relatively few differences this summer from last summer.
"The people that have been here know that Ocean City did very well," Kisby said.