Long Beach Island gateway town dry, ready to welcome tourists on island
Ship Bottom, a one-square-mile borough on Long Beach Island, was under water just more than six months ago when Hurricane Sandy hit the shore.
The photos that emerged in the hours following the storm left many to wonder how the tiny town at the entrance to Long Beach Island would bounce back for the summer. But over the past six months, one by one, businesses reopened their doors and hung flags along the borough's main thoroughfare to announce their presence.
When the Wawa at the Route 72 circle reopened in March, things were really looking up.
Joe Rulli, owner of Joeys' Pizza and Pasta in Ship Bottom, said his restaurant is back and better than new now. After the storm, when Rulli first walked into the restaurant on Long Beach Boulevard, he had a feeling of helplessness. Three feet of water had flooded the restaurant.
"I had dealt with flooding before, but this time was different. It was a feeling of being overwhelmed, and at that point I hadn't even looked at my other location," Rulli said. "There were ketchup packets everywhere. The fryers had over 100 pounds of oil in them and it was all floating around the store."
They started work, and after every piece of equipment was replaced, along with the walls and the building's siding, Joeys' reopened March 1.
Rulli's other location, at 81st Street in Beach Haven Crest, is set to reopen by Memorial Day. That squat building is known to flood during storms, and during Sandy the restaurant took on about 6 feet of water.
Rulli called the building a bull after it survived the 1962 storm, and now Sandy.
"We'll be back. Last week was a big week for us - electricity, gas and hot water all in the same day," he said.