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Jersey shore getting ready for first summer after Sandy

Much rebuilt, but landscape looks different

Visitors to the Jersey shore this Memorial Day weekend will find many of their favorite beaches and boardwalks ready for summer.

Mel Evans/Associated Press

Visitors to the Jersey shore this Memorial Day weekend will find many of their favorite beaches and boardwalks ready for summer.

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — The boardwalks are back, and so are most of the beaches, even if some are a little thinner this year.

The smell of funnel cakes, french fries, and pizza will mingle with the salt air, and the screech of sea gulls will be heard, but so will the thwack of hammers repairing what can be fixed and the roar of bulldozers and backhoes tearing down what cannot.

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Welcome to summer 2013 at the Jersey shore, the first since Hurricane Sandy pummeled the coast and upended hundreds of thousands of lives in October.

‘‘The Jersey shore is open for the summer and ready to receive our customers,’’ Governor Chris Christie said Monday at a ceremony reopening the newly rebuilt Lavallette boardwalk, three-quarters of which was destroyed by the storm. ‘‘This is going to be a really good week.’’

Christie cautioned that parts of the shore won’t look as they did last summer, but predicted by next summer they should be back to normal.

Even in many of the places that were damaged the most by Sandy, remarkable recovery and rebuilding efforts have been made to get them ready for the summer tourist season. Yet reminders of the storm’s devastation are visible all around.

Denise Gottilla and her husband, Daryl, stuck their beach umbrella into the sand in Point Pleasant Beach earlier this month.

To their right was a wood-shingled home that had been destroyed by the storm surge. To their left was concrete rubble from a pool and patio from homes that also were badly damaged. And in front of them were large piles of sand that still needed to be smoothed down before beachgoers could arrive. But she was encouraged by what she saw.

‘‘The houses took a beating, but I’m pleased with how the beach looks,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.’’

While Sandy damaged or destroyed many shore rentals, there are still plenty to be had, said Randy Sinor, past president of the Ocean County Board of Realtors, who works in Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island.

‘‘On LBI, we all have 95 percent or better of our pre-Sandy inventory ready for rental,’’ he said.

Countywide, rental stock ranges from about 65 percent of what was there before Sandy to 90 percent, depending on the town, he said. Demand has been about 75 percent of what it was at this time last year.

Not all of the Jersey shore was hurt by Sandy. Famous resort towns including Ocean City and the Wildwoods had minimal damage that was quickly repaired.

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