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Disaster-weary Seaside residents begin demolition, cleanup after boardwalk fire

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS, New Jersey (PIX11) – Bill Akers is the Mayor of Seaside Heights, New Jersey.  In the past year he has seen Sandy devastate his town and fire destroy a chunk of his boardwalk.

The area may be battered, but it’s spirit is far from broken, “We all know that bad things happen in life but that doesn’t mean that it has to let it get you down.”

The accidental fire that tore through the area under a month ago, totaled nearly 60 businesses.  Now amidst the rubble, bulldozers, excavators and those who come here daily to reflect, there is also a rebirth, “I see progress. We need that to happen,” said Akers just yards away from the charred debris.

The initial clean-up phase will cost approximately $5-million dollars.  Another $10-million will be spent on construction. The completion of the project is targeted by next Memorial Day.

seaside boardwalk

When PIX 11 News spoke with Mayor Akers he talked about the Fun Town sign.  While its building is gone, it still stands as a symbol, “It’s part of the past hanging on to what is going to be the new future.  Because while there will be a new Fun Town, everything is going to be upgraded. Everything is going to be new, so it’s kind of like the past coming into the future for me.”

Michael Cabone knows this boardwalk and its past well, “I’ve been here my whole life.  Since I was a little kid I sold newspapers on the boardwalk.”

Carbone is the owner if the Beachcomber restaurant and bar.  On the day of the fire he says that he had an angel looking over him.  He points to an image of a rainbow over the property as the blaze inched closer.  Miraculously the beachcomber survived and opened in late September.

Carbone says that he relieved they have started tearing everything down. He wants life on the shore to return to its old ways, “This is sadness and this is devastation and as soon as this is gone, which they say will be gone very shortly, it will be back to normal and we will look outside and we will see a nice beautiful beach again.”