After a devastating fire last week all but destroyed one of New Jersey’s iconic shore communities, Seaside Park, Gov. Chris Christie promised state aid to the hard hit community, which is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy nearly one year ago.
A raging inferno that was made worse by steady wind gusts scorched at least 50 businesses last Thursday on the historic Seaside Heights boardwalk. Dozens of clothing shops, food stands and amusement attractions were virtually destroyed by the massive fire, whose origin as of Sunday night was being called “suspicious” by federal, state and local investigators.
Smoldering embers could be seen amid the ruins, and the acrid smell of smoke permeated throughout the resort community and even some neighboring towns. The area was all but decimated from Sandy last October and was still recovering from extensive damage caused by the storm when the fire hit.
Christie has toured the area at least three times since Thursday, and on Sunday afternoon he vowed to provide more than $15 million in state aid in addition to $50,000 in grants and low-interest loans to residents and business owners. A flare-up of debris occurred Sunday morning, but it was quickly extinguished by local fire departments.
“The time for sadness is over now,” Christie said on Sunday afternoon while touring parts of the destroyed boardwalk. “We are here to help residents and business owners impacted by this tragedy.”
Christie said funding for the grants and/or loans will come from resources already allocated through the Stronger than the Storm New Jersey business and financial program that was implemented after Sandy. A final decision about how and when the funds will be available to victims of the fire will be announced later this week.