MANTOLOKING, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Britain’s Prince Harry toured two New Jersey shore communities devastated six months ago by Superstorm Sandy, viewing some of the damage that remains but also walking on a rebuilt boardwalk and shaking hands with construction workers who have been racing to get the resort towns ready for the summer.
In Seaside Heights, where the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” was taped, he walked down the rebuilt boardwalk with Gov. Chris Christie and both took part in a game of chance, throwing perforated plastic balls into holes for stuffed animal prizes, which they handed over to children.
The two came within sight of a roller coaster that the storm sent plunging into the Atlantic Ocean and which became a defining image of the storm that struck in late October. A crane was in place to begin demolition of the amusement ride.
In both Seaside Heights and Mantoloking 10 miles north, his first stop, the prince shook hands with police, fire and other emergency personnel. Harry also greeted construction workers who have been working on rebuilding Seaside Heights’ famous boardwalk, now about two-thirds complete.
The motorcade carrying the prince and Christie arrived about 10:15 a.m. in Mantoloking, where some residents were flying Union Jack flags and one handwritten sign read: “Prince Harry please come back when we’re restored.”
Harry, who wore a white shirt and sunglasses, was presented with a Mantoloking Police baseball cap..
Christie showed Harry a spot where the Atlantic Ocean had cut Mantoloking in half, creating a channel to the back bay and taking out a bridge and houses. The channel has since been filled in.
“This used to be a house?” Harry asked at one barren spot.
Every one of the wealthy town’s 521 homes was damaged or destroyed by Sandy last October. Scores remain as piles of rubble.
Among those waiting for Harry were members of the Bowden family, four siblings who shared a summer house that was destroyed by the storm in October.
A member of the family, Camilla Bowden, 17, said she had visited London and studied royal history but came to see Harry for one reason: “’cause he’s my future husband.”
“We appreciate Harry showing care and support during such a difficult time for our family and community,” said her aunt, Becky Guenther.
Christie posted on his Twitter account that he greeted Prince Harry in Sea Girt, where Harry arrived by helicopter, “the best way I know how; with his own Royal Fleece.” Christie wore a blue fleece jacket everywhere he went in the weeks after Sandy.
The prince spent about a half hour in Mantoloking before the motorcade headed to Seaside Heights.
Along the route, signs were posted welcoming Harry, including one on a laundry basket attached to a pole.
As the motorcade passed Lavalette Elementary School, dozens of schoolchildren stood on the front sidewalk, waving American and British flags.
From Seaside Heights the prince was headed to New York City to promote British trade and tourism and a community baseball program.
New Jersey sustained about $37 billion worth of damage from the storm. Mantoloking and Seaside Heights took the worst pummeling by Sandy’s storm surge.
About 360,000 homes or apartment units in New Jersey were damaged by the storm.
The prince began a weeklong visit to the U.S. on May 9.
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