Members of New Jersey's General Assembly toured Ocean County communities devastated by Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy on Thursday.
The tour, led by State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes and local officials, gave lawmakers and members of the press an up-close look at what Sandy left behind—including remnants of the Seaside Heights boardwalk and the now-iconic Jet Star roller coaster, which dropped from Casino Pier into the ocean during the storm.
Repairing Casino Pier is estimated to be a $45 million project, Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said, including removing the roller coaster from the ocean floor. It is unlikely that Funtown Pier in neighboring Seaside Park will be rebuilt.
Although there was talk of allowing the roller coaster to stay in the water as a tourist attraction, those plans have been abandoned. The first step in removing the roller coaster—and ensuring that what remains of Casino Pier is stable—is having divers inspect the area, which should happen soon, Boyd said.
In Seaside Heights, much of the boardwalk debris has been cleared, and crews are already preparing for the construction of a new boardwalk.
"We'll rebuild the boardwalk; all the debris will be cleaned up," Boyd said. He estimated it will be another month, or longer, before residents can return to Seaside Heights on a permanent basis.
Just north of Seaside Heights is the Ortley Beach section of said Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy.
Joey Harrison's Surf Club was literally ripped to shreds along with adjacent houses. About 300 dump trucks filled with sand are shoring up the area's dunes each day.
Cleanup also continues on the bay side of Ortley Beach.
Progress was also continuing in Mantoloking, where a breach formed a new inlet near Herbert Street. Crews were in the process of laying new natural gas lines and restoring Route 35 north.
Legislators also got an up-close look at the devastated Camp Osborn neighborhood in Brick, where about 60 homes burned to the ground during Sandy, presumably due to natural gas fires.