After Irene, Jersey shore readies for Labor Day tourists

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 02, 2011 4:23 PM
After Irene, Jersey shore readies for Labor Day tourists

By Ray Sanchez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Businesses along the New Jersey shore, from Asbury Park to Atlantic City, geared up for the last hurrah of summer on Friday, a week after Hurricane Irene forced the evacuation of some one million people from the popular resort towns.

Some seaside tourist spots along the shore fared better than others from Irene's wind and waves, but the mass evacuations delivered a harsh economic blow.

In Atlantic City, where casinos closed for only the third time since they opened in 1978, restaurant owner Carl Redding was serving up a Labor Day weekend menu of promotions aimed at bringing customers back.

"Irene totally destroyed my business," said Redding, who opened his popular soul food eatery a year ago. "We shut down for three days because of the mandatory evacuation and lost about $40,000 in business for three days we were closed."

This weekend, the last of the summer tourist season, Redding is offering events for children on Friday with karaoke and face painting, live jazz on Saturday, gospel music on Sunday and a Monday Night Football event on Labor Day.

"You can't recover what you lost," Redding said. "All I can do is make what I'm going to make this weekend."

Last Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told sunbathers along the shore to "get the hell off the beach." His blunt warning was heeded as an estimated one million people left the state's summer resorts before Irene touched down in New Jersey on Sunday.

"The governor was right to say that ... but now it's time for them to get the hell back," Redding said.

They may be on their way, said Kathy Dietrich, assistant innkeeper at the 22-room Beacon House bed and breakfast in Sea Girt.

"We don't have a room open; every room is booked this weekend," she said. "We're back to normal."

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)