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Most of the Jersey shore’s boardwalks don’t have amusement rides or games; they consist of wooden or synthetic walkways carrying beachgoers from one end of the beach to the other. Belmar finished its boardwalk repairs first, in late April, Seaside Heights is not far behind, Asbury Park is done and numerous other towns have either finished or plan to do so by Friday. Even the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, which was devastated by the storm, started rebuilding its boardwalk two weeks ago and expects to have it open by June.
The beaches themselves may look fine in most places, but many are flatter than they once were, said Jon Miller, a coastal expert with Stevens Institute of Technology. He predicted the coast will remain vulnerable to future storms until much of the sand that was lost either returns naturally with the tides, or is physically put back on the beaches by heavy equipment, and beach replenishment and protective dune projects need to be carried out. He also said dangerous rip currents could appear this year in places they didn’t use to be, due to the changed topography of the ocean floor.
And for all the attention on boardwalks and tourists, this summer will be marked by long, hard work for many shore residents still struggling to recover. Andrea Bowne is elevating her home near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach, which took on 3 feet of water during the storm. Since then, she has moved from place to place, longing for the day she can go back home.
"Hopefully they’ll be done soon and we can be working on the interior all summer," she said. "I say I’m moving back in as soon as there’s electric and cable. My friends say, ‘Uh, how about water and sewer? You plan on flushing any toilets?’ And I say, ‘OK, that, too.’ I don’t even care if there’s gas yet; I don’t plan on cooking anything all summer!"
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