Jersey Shore business owners open up about "crunch time" of Memorial Day weekend after superstorm Sandy

Mike Garofalo, co-owner of the Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company on Long Beach Island, N.J., shucks clams May 24, 2013.
Mike Garofalo, co-owner of the Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company on Long Beach Island, N.J., shucks clams May 24, 2013.

(CBS News) LONG BEACH ISLAND, N.J. - This is the beginning of a crucial time for beach communities battered by superstorm Sandy last October.

Business owners operate under different economic rules on the Jersey Shore, making most of their livings between now and Labor Day.

We sat down with the owners of the Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company to hear first-hand about the challenge now under way.

Brothers John and Mike Garofalo have worked every day since superstorm Sandy to get ready.

"The whole island is geared up and ready to go, and this is crunch time," said Mike. "We have 12 weeks to, you know, to do it."

"If you have 12 weeks, and each week is a month, and that's your year," John said.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the story of their year will be told.

"Everybody's ready," said Mike. "We have to be. We want to be. We are."

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But looking at those pictures from when the storm hit, it's a little hard to believe.

"People are resilient," Mike said.

"People worked hard," John said.

It's not just their customers greeting the start of the season with a smile.

"If we don't open Memorial Day weekend, and we're not ready to go for the summer, it's going to impact our suppliers down at Barnegat Light, the scallopers down at Barnegat Light, the clammers down at Tuckerton in the southern part of the bay," Mike said.

And they're not laying off any employees.

"No, no, we're geared up, and we're anticipating- I'm anticipating what we've done for the past 39 years," said Mike. "We're going to have busy nights, and we're going to employ people."

That's good because you can make a good buck here. I can report first-hand what jobs at the Shellfish mean. I think I made more here when I was 15 than I did in my first three jobs in broadcasting.

"You can always come back," John said.

"I got an apron for you, baby," Mike said.

But for every coastal community devastated by Sandy, there's been nothing more serious than racing the calendar to get ready for this weekend.

I asked them what does the way that the Jersey Shore has come back in such a short period of time say about the people here.

"We're resilient," said Mike. "We love the island. We might not belong living on a barrier island, but this is where we live. This is where we want to live. This is where we raise our children. This is where we are. We're Islanders, and we're going to fix it because this is where we want to be."

The Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company, best fried shrimp in the business.

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.