OCEAN GROVE, N.J. (AP) — With the ceremonial reopening of the Ocean Grove boardwalk Thursday morning, most of the Jersey shore's boardwalks are back in business following Superstorm Sandy.
The walkway in the Ocean Grove section of Neptune Township was the final major project to rebuild a boardwalk damaged by the storm, but it was not the last.
Part of Long Branch's storm-wrecked boardwalk won't be repaired until this fall. And the Seaside Park boardwalk, destroyed by a spectacular fire last September, is just about finished and will be connected to the walkway in neighboring Seaside Heights by this weekend.
Gov. Chris Christie chose the Ocean Grove boardwalk — which will have one last section rebuilt in the fall — to kick off the July 4 weekend and take stock of the shore's recovery from the October 2012 storm.
He said the reconstruction of the walkway represents "a cap on another stage — not the completion — of our recovery from Hurricane Sandy. If you look at where we are today in New Jersey compared to the way we felt on Oct. 29, 2012, we have all done an excellent job."
Dale Whilden, president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which owns the walkway and the land in Ocean Grove, had been counting the days to recovery.
"It was 613 days ago that Hurricane Sandy destroyed and wreaked such havoc at the Jersey shore," he said. "It has been a long road."
The association, a privately run religious group, got turned down twice by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repair money before prevailing on the third try. Ocean Grove eventually got $2.36 million for its boardwalk.