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Business Owners Devastated By Boardwalk Inferno Meet With State Officials

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SEASIDE PARK, N.J., (CBS) -- Business owners who lost everything in the Seaside Park boardwalk inferno met with state officials on Monday.

Meantime, firefighters continue to monitor hot spots and flare ups while the cause of this fire is still unknown.

Mary Verderosa and her husband spent their lives at the boardwalk.

“A lifetime of happiness. I just lost. My first job after college I was working on the boardwalk for other people. My husband started when he was 16-years-old,” Verderosa said.

In 1972 they bought a two-story building on the boardwalk. That property and the four businesses it housed are now destroyed after a massive decimated blocks of the seaside park and seaside heights boardwalk.

Firefighters battled hot spots Monday as visitors continued to stop by to see the damage with their own eyes.

A few blocks away work got underway on the daunting task of rebuilding. Representatives at least nine different state agencies set up a mobile cabinet for Governor Christie at the Seaside Municipal Complex. Christie promised business owners to get help with their insurance money as quickly as possible and this weekend he announced $15 million in disaster grants and loans.

“Anything is better than nothing. It’s a start,” Maureen Stankowitz of Ocean County Chamber of Commerce said.

Business leaders say it will take a long time to figure out not just the cost of physical damage from the fire, but the impact on late season tourism.

“The other people that are affected are like the motels and hotels that haven’t been in the fire but yet they aren’t renting any rooms because people are reluctant to come down and stay,” Stankowitz said.

How long will it take to rebuild? No one knows for sure but people like this couple are determined to make it happen.

“Oh, yes, even though I’m up there in years, I still want to be back there,” Verderosa said.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office says that fire investigators are still doing their work and it’s not until their done before any business owners can go back to their properties to find out if there’s anything worth saving.

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