Officials called the re-opening of the Ortley Beach A&P a sign of progress, as the store that was battered by Superstorm Sandy welcomed customers back Thursday morning.
"I know when you walked up to this building five months ago, you shook your head and said 'I don't think we can recover,'" said Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who was among those commemorating the re-opening, including A&P executives and Toms River officials. "Anybody who walks through this building is going to know not only are we recovering, but we're recovering faster and strong and better than anyone expected us to do."
As one of the first buildings motorists see when they enter the barrier island, the A&P's re-opening is a sign of progress, said Toms River Councilman John Sevastakis.
"It's been an icon in Ortley Beach for years," he said. "It's good to see we'll have people coming in and out of the store shopping as people come back in and repopulate Ortley Beach and the barrier island of New Jersey."
A few doors down from the A&P is a Salvation Army store, where locals can find the goods and services that they need as they recover. Next door to the A&P, the Toms River Police Department opened its Ortley substation Thursday. There, residents can speak with an officer seven days a week between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The A&P parking lot was one of the few places where flood waters receded relatively quickly following Sandy, offering emergency responders a place to stage operations after the storm.