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Jersey Shore businesses crippled by Sandy hope for big Labor Day turnout

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY (PIX11) – As Labor Day approaches, New Jersey’s battered beach communities are looking back at their first summer post Superstorm Sandy.

While most boardwalk businesses were up and running and beaches were open, fewer people came to the Jersey Shore this summer. Poor weather for parts of the summer also may have contributed to the smaller crowds.

Rebecca Avilleira is a game operator at Coin Castle Amusements in Seaside Heights. “I think that this summer was down but next summer will be back up,” Avilleira said. “And I really think by next summer more hotels will be open for people to come down and stay in and enjoy the boardwalk.”

Colleen Rafter of Brick lost her home in the storm. She wants to see the Shore bounce back. “The real Jersey Shore people have lived here all our lives and we rely on it for the economy, jobs.”

And while many beaches and business have been repaired, some homes along the water have not been rebuilt or remain in disrepair. Heather Curcio was riding her bicycle along the water in Mantoloking.

“It’s weird to ride your bike on a street and see a lot of houses missing,” Curcio said.

Governor Chris Christie visited with tourists, locals and workers on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights Friday.

“I am happy with the progress we have made but I also know that for everybody who is still not in their home, that we have work to do.”

According to Christie, business was down about 40 percent in Seaside Heights this summer. But he told reporters he stands behind spending millions on the “Stronger Than The Storm” campaign. He said it brought people to New Jersey who may have thought the beaches were still closed.