On almost any other year, the focus around the Jersey Shore region this week would be on getting ready for the Labor Day Weekend. And while there is still a significant amount of excitement for the end of summer festivities, there is still a lot of work to be done to clean up from Hurricane Irene.
According to AAA, before Hurricane Irene arrived last weekend more than 950 thousand people were expected to travel to our area. It is not known how many of those people will change their plans based on the damage done here and other parts of the state. "Now that we have said goodbye to Irene, more than 65 million residents, emergency responders and officials in the storm's track along the East Coast are evaluating the damage left behind by the storm," said Tracy E. Noble, a spokesperson for AAA's Mid-Atlantic Region.
Noble said the number of travelers to the Jersey Shore will likely depend on how they were able to get through the storm. Even with the projection of 962 thousand people coming to the area, that was still expected to be a 3 percent reduction from last year. "Prior to Hurricane Irene the largest variable in determining Labor Day Holiday travel was economic uncertainty. Now, the variable has shifted to the level of damage that Irene left in her wake." Noble added, "It remains to be seen if people will return to the shore area for one last weekend of fun and relaxation or remain closer to home deal with damage and devastation."
Since Hurricane Irene's arrival last weekend, the State Department of Transportation has been busy repairing as many roads as possible ahead of the holiday weekend. James Simpson, the commissioner of the department said what started as a list of 700 projects is down to just 13 in five days.
In the local area some of the damage that has yet to be fixed includes a portion of Risden's Beach in Point Pleasant Beach that has been closed as a result of the storm. Also in Ocean County, there are traffic problems reported on the border of and Toms River at Route 571. There is hope from county officials that the problem could be fixed ahead of the weekend rush.
For those not interested in driving to the area, New Jersey Transit will be offering special schedules on the buses and the rails. On Friday there will be extra trains on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley, Morris and Essex and Pascack Valley lines as of 1 p.m. There will also be added buses on several routes. On Monday the trains will run on a weekend and holiday schedule, while buses will run on different schedules depending on the route. For more information you can go to their website.
Another factor in the number of visitors to the area will be the weather. According to the National Weather Service, the weather in Point Pleasant Beach on Friday will be mostly sunny with a high of 73. The low on Friday night will be a still comfortable 64. On Saturday the mercury will rise to a high of 81 during the day and a low of 69 at night. There is also a 20 percent chance of rain or thunderstorms based on the latest forecasts.
There is also a 30 percent chance of rain and storms on Sunday with a high temperature of 84 during the day and a low of 70 at night. Of all the days this long weekend, Monday looks to be the most likely to see rain. The National Weather Service is calling for a 50 percent chance of rain with a high of 80 during the day and a low of 65 at night.