Seaside Heights Mayor Says Boardwalk Fire Sets Back Sandy Recovery, But Could’ve Been Worse

September 13, 2013 | Energy & Environment
Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers expected the damage from the fire to be worse and says the damage "is something we can handle."

Despite the devastation incurred on the Seaside Boardwalk after a massive fire erupted, Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that it could’ve been worse if it weren’t for firefighters containing the blaze where they did.

Akers said when he assessed the damage this morning, it was better than he anticipated. “As we stood out here until a very late hour last night, your imagination was running a little bit,” he said. “But when I looked at how they got it contained and getting it contained at Lincoln Avenue was such a key. Setting up that fire break right there, it saved a tremendous amount of property value there. So as bad as it is, it could’ve been a whole lot worse. This is something we can handle. Most definitely.”

According to Akers, Seaside Park lost the majority of businesses — about 30 — while Seaside Heights had less than 10 businesses affected.

Many residents are still displaced after Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged the area and Akers said the fire sets back the Sandy recovery efforts that had been ongoing.

“We’ve been hoping to move back into the residential community. We had gotten the boardwalk open, we had gotten the businesses on their feet and we had a summer, regardless if it was maybe not as strong as it should be. But normally we have 2,300 residents living here year round. We’re looking at less than 1,000 at this point,” Akers said. “A lot of people, the insurance money was late coming in, the FEMA money was late coming in, SBA loans, whatever the case might have been. But now we’re to the point of lifting homes and getting these people back in and we’re right back to square one again dealing with the boardwalk issues.”