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Christie pledges $15 million to rebuild burned boardwalk

Sept. 14, 2013 at 11:23 PM   |   Comments

OCEAN CITY, N.J., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Saturday pledged $15 million in state aid to help rebuild businesses destroyed in a fire along the Jersey Shore.

Christie met with owners of many of the 50 businesses burned out in the fire that broke out Thursday night and spread to about 50 businesses in a six-block area in Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights.

Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers told WABC-TV, New York, after Saturday's meeting the plan is to provide $50,000 grants "directly to the people that were affected by the fire and up to a $5 million loan for people that need help in rebuilding."

One business owner, Bob Stewart, said he felt "very comfortable after that meeting and we'll just see if everything falls into place now."

Jay Delaney, another business owner, said Christie "was saying all the right things and we just hope he delivers on it."

Christie said Saturday the area has had a couple of days to mourn the loss but now it's necessary to get busy, to rebuild the tourist center ahead of the 2014 summer season.

"We've got some pieces of the boardwalk to repair," he said. "We've got some businesses on the boardwalk to rebuild but in the context of what we've been through already [with superstorm Sandy in 2012], much smaller, much more containable, and I think much more attainable for us in a relatively shorter period of time."

Ocean County prosecutors said there had been no determination Saturday whether the fire was deliberately set.

The fire has been contained but there were still some hit spots early Saturday. Demolition crews were on standby to begin tearing down the burnt out structures once the investigation is complete.

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