NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Riding along much of Long Beach Boulevard, the main drag on Long Beach Island, a skinny 18-mile stretch of sand off the New Jersey coast, you'd never know that it was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy less than seven months ago. Many businesses are open, the mounds of debris from flooded homes have been cleaned up and it appears to be business as usual on the island that has been near and dear to several generations of my family. But if you listen, you'll hear the sounds of saws and pneumatic nail guns. You'll see contractor's trucks on almost every street. The island has come a long way, for sure, and much more quickly than I expected, but the challenges remain. During my last trip to Holgate, on the southern end of the island, there were still visible scars: houses pushed off foundations, others knocked over, beachfront homes with overly exposed pilings and the remnants of what was once a trailer park. Read the local newspapers, and you'll learn about the main island controversy over beach replenishment projects, which have expanded the sizes of protective dunes and widened the beaches dramatically over parts of the island. Some beachfront homeowners have refused to sign easements in order to allow the replenishment work to move forward. This has limited the ability to complete larger contiguous stretches of beach.
Last year, work on a one-mile stretch that included our own beach was completed. The replenished dunes held during Sandy, and I'm convinced that the damage would have been worse had the beaches not been replenished. Unfortunately, that one-mile stretch ended two blocks from our beach, where a homeowner refused to sign his easement. Nearby, on the bayside, one of the locals, who rode out the storm, witnessed the bay and ocean meet during the storm surge. Now, I'm certain that flood water from the bay was responsible for some of the flooding, but it does raise the question as to the extent to which the beach replenishment limited the damage in areas where it had been completed.