THE JERSEY SHORE -- Even a week after Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey coast, the full extent of the storm damage is not yet known. The extraordinary pictures of destroyed boardwalks, piers and amusement centers broadcast on the evening news tell only part of the story.
"Right now we're still trying to assess all damage and losses," said Lary Zucker, general counsel for the New Jersey Amusement Association. "We're still involved in that process."
According to Zucker, initial reports indicate that the worst of the destruction was centered on the shore areas of Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights and Keansburg; and some of those areas are still inaccessible. To the south, Wildwood and other areas were not as hard hit.
Zucker said that the New Jersey Amusement Association has received overwhelming support, from inside and outside coin-op industry. Those reaching out to help the hard-hit amusement communities include the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and the International Amusement & Leisure Defense Association. NJAA is also reaching out beyond its membership. At a recent board meeting, Zucker said that its members have agreed to form a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping first responders who were victims of the hurricane.
"We decided to establish 501c3 charitable organization and begin collecting donations to help out the first responders," he said. "There are many first responders who don't have homes to go back to, some of them are living in fire stations. The NJAA will start there."
However, what will happen as the vital summer season approaches remains in question. "Everybody is going to make an effort to get up and running by next season," Zucker told Vending Times. "It's going to take an effort by the individual owners, and the NJAA, and the cooperation of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Everybody has indicated they are going to do what they have to do to cut red tape and move forward. If that's what happens, we all stand a good chance of opening to one extent or another."
Another question on the NJAA's mind: How much of the Jersey Shore will look like the Jersey Shore? Since the storm severely impacted infrastructure -- buildings, piers and boardwalks, and the seaside FECs and arcades -- much of the rebuilding will have to be from the ground up.
"The No. 1 message is we will be back," Zucker said. "It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort, but it will take more than Hurricane Sandy to knock us out."