Ocean City is welcoming back visitors since Hurricane Irene swept through and sent sand and water flying. Businesses are worried that the storm’s aftermath could keep tourists away.
The original Thrashers Fries is open for business. Kites are flying, para-sails are soaring and the waves are rolling onto the beach.
“It’s wonderful here now. It’s nice and sunny and the breeze is good,” said Ocean City visitor Barbara Nolte.
The mayor likes to say the city is again open for business. “There's little if any damage you can ever find anywhere the beach is in great shape and the businesses are geared up and they're really anxious to get everybody back into town,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.
According to an early estimate, businesses here lost nearly $30 million in revenue. Bill Gibbs owns the Dough Roller chain of restaurants and two hotels. He says his staff has been scrambling to clean up, but business is down 10 percent for the summer.
“You can’t take seven, eight, nine, 10 days out of a 120-day business. That hurts,” Gibbs said.
He and all the other merchants hope the people come back this Labor Day weekend. The clean up is complete, which is more than most visitors can say about where they live.
Visitor Laura Butler says Ocean City was more calm than her hometown. “All the electric went out for 36 hours. All the trees came down because the ground was soaked,” Butler said.