REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — Business along the beaches of Maryland and Delaware seemed to rebound quickly with big crowds Saturday, a week after Hurricane Irene closed many resorts and forced evacuations.
In Rehoboth Beach, the Avenue Inn sold out all 60 of its rooms for Labor Day weekend. General Manager Jim Powers said traffic from beach visitors picked up quickly after a lull early in the week.
“We are pretty fortunate,” he said.
Still, many visitors aren’t spending as much at nearby shops, Powers said.
“They’ve got a lot of people walking in but not many people buying,” he said.
In Ocean City, Md., the 180-room Castle in the Sand hotel was nearly sold out for Labor Day weekend after having no guests the weekend before.
Along the city’s boardwalk, Bill Dreibelbis, a partner in three surf shops, said business this week was better than this time last year, despite Hurricane Irene. Last year, Hurricane Earl hampered business heading into the Labor Day weekend, he said.
Still, Dreibelbis estimated his lost sales will amount to at least $100,000 due to Irene because his stores were closed last weekend.
“It definitely hurt,” Dreibelbis said.
To move out some extra merchandise, the stores are running clearance sales. Dreibelbis said the crowds have been heavy for the holiday weekend.
“Last night there was an hour wait at the restaurant I went to,” he said Saturday. “It was nice to see a crowd back in town already because some years, a hurricane hits and people forget about the beach. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case this year.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic had predicted a slight decline in Labor Day weekend travel but said there could be a last-minute increase as some travelers try to salvage their beach plans.
At Assateague Island National Seashore, more than 150 camp sites in the Maryland section of the park were full for the weekend, along with hundreds of parking spots, said Carl Zimmerman, a spokesman for the National Park Service.
“The beaches are looking good, and the folks are out in force,” he said.
Generally the area didn’t seem to be quite as crowded as normal, though, based on traffic in the area, he said. Some parking areas in the Virginia section of the island were damaged by the hurricane and won’t be able to accommodate as many visitors, Zimmerman said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)