By Robin Rieger
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ (CBS) – Amid the lingering devastation in Seaside Heights in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, there is new disappointment.
“You can see the federal government just is dysfunctional at best,” says Mayor Bill Akers.
He says he is stunned that two months after the storm swallowed the Seaside Heights boardwalk and flooded homes and businesses, the $60 billion Sandy aid bill wasn’t put up for a vote in the House of Representatives.
“It’s absurd that when tourism is the number one revenue source in the state of New Jersey that you can’t let a bill pass. The ripple effect is going to be huge,” Akers says.
He says fees brought in by tourism cover at least 70 percent of the borough’s $12 million budget. Federal funds would help some displaced homeowners and help businesses build back inventory.
“A lot of inventory, all the paper goods — everything was all gone,” says Michael Carbone. He owns the Beachcomber Bar and Grill on what’s left of the boardwalk. He also says he ran up his credit card to reopen while waiting until insurance money and potential aid is available.
“We need the support of everybody. This is a tourist town, this is where people come for vacation and stuff…we have to keep that alive, we don’t want ‘em going someplace else,” Carbone explains.
Bids for the start of boardwalk reconstruction, including pilings and the walking surfaces, will be opened Thursday.
“Without tourism, Seaside Heights cannot function the way it functions now. We’ll be…I don’t know what kind of town we’ll be,” Akers says.
Right now, it’s a town that wants to survive.
The mayor says even though the boardwalk will be done in phases, he has stipulated in the contracts that it should be completed by May 10th in order to be up and running well ahead of Memorial Day weekend.