BELMAR, N.J. — Good weather and greater awareness that the Jersey shore has made huge strides in recovering from Hurricane Sandy helped make the second summer after the storm better than the first one, many merchants and elected officials say.
Some business owners report profits up 20 to 30 percent this summer compared with last year, when the shore was in the early stages of recovering from the 2012 storm.
‘‘This summer was great,’’ said Matt Riccelli, who manages Gee Gee’s restaurants on the Manasquan beachfront.
Riccelli said his business was up 20 percent this summer from last, when it was still rebuilding and the beach was much narrower before a replenishment project. Weekend weather was mostly sunny. But he and others said the biggest factor was getting past images of Sandy’s destruction.
‘‘Sandy is a memory at this point,’’ Riccelli said. ‘‘A lot of the construction is done, and more locals who were displaced last year are back in town this year.’’
Annie’s Ocean Grill has operated from a truck on the Belmar beachfront the past two summers. This year was definitely better, said David Gelman, a cook.
‘‘People see that the beach is back, the boardwalk is here, and that Sandy is gone,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a sense that the shore is getting back to normal.’’
To be sure, there is still work to do. The whine of power saws and the thwack of hammers still resonate on summer afternoons in places like Manasquan, the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, and Mantoloking, where work continues on homes wrecked by the storm. But even those places have made sure the beach is ready for visitors.
Summer rentals bounced back strongly. Jerry Bennett, a real estate agent with Seashore Agency in Ship Bottom, said his business increased by 30 percent on Long Beach Island.