By WIL FULTON
Almost a month after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Jersey Shore, Red Bank’s Oyster Point Hotel remains locked and dark, a handwritten note taped to its front door telling visitors it will reopen “when it is safe to do so.”
The riverside hotels basement, the operational heart of the facility, was inundated with more than six feet of water in the storm. Even though flood gates were in place, the water levels exceeded them and entered the basement, destroying the electrical and communication equipment, said Kevin Barry, the hotel’s operating manager.
We have flood gates that were set by the standards of the ’92 storm, but obviously the damage by Sandy was exponentially worse,” he said.
Barry sat down with redbankgreen on the banks of the Navesink River Wednesday afternoon to discuss the damage to the Oyster Point and its sibling facility, the Molly Pitcher Inn.
I just want to set the record straight, Barry said, We plan on opening up Oyster Point again, as soon as January. There have been a lot of rumors going around, but weve been working with our insurance agents and contractors to get ourselves up and running as soon as possible. We will be back.
Demolition work has already begun, and Barry said he expects power to return to Oyster Point as early as next week. In rebuilding, enhanced precautionary measures such as higher flood gates, better waterproofing materials, and placing wiring as high as possible will be taken, he said.
The hotel had been evacuated in advance of the October 29 landfall.
The Molly Pitcher Inn, just a block east, is on higher-ground but still suffered major damage, Barry said. Over 20 guest rooms on the inns marina level had to be gutted and refurbished after they were exposed to nearly a foot of salt water during the storm, he said.
Amid the destruction, the Molly opened on a limited basis just days after the storm, and was able to accommodate Oyster Point guests who were displaced, as well as Oyster Point employees who needed somewhere to work.
Yea, we all have roommates now, Barry said with a laugh, referring to the tight working conditions currently inside the Molly Pitcher. We have twice the staff in one building now, but we needed the extra help and we have such a great team here, its been alright.
The Oyster Point will honor all reservations placed before the storm, giving guests the option to move their reservation to the Molly Pitcher if they desire, he said.
What we really want to drive home is that we are doing all we can to get both of our hotels back to 100 percent as soon as possible,” Barry said. “So far, weve made excellent progress in repairing the damages, as well as keeping our customers happy.