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Shore merchants: 'They scared everyone away'

VENTNOR, N.J. _ With apologies to all the people who left for home Saturday because of Hermine, and to stung shore merchants, Sunday was a mostly gorgeous day at the Jersey shore.

VENTNOR, N.J. _ With apologies to all the people who left for home Saturday because of Hermine, and to stung shore merchants, Sunday was a mostly gorgeous day at the Jersey shore.

Christie, speaking at a briefing at the National Guard Armory in Morristown, said beach erosion and possible flooding were still a concern. He said making the call for an emergency declaration was always tricky.

"The declaration of emergency is more about preparedness, to do what needs to be done," Christie said.

He noted that there were about 900,000 more people at the Jersey shore during a Labor Day weekend storm than with an off-season storm like Sandy.

"It's always a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation," Christie said. "I went through this with Irene and Sandy. People said what the hell is he doing, why'd he evacuate us? The next year we had Sandy.

"It's always a hard call," Christie said. "Weathermen are absolutely allowed to be wrong and come to work the next day and not be criticized. Governors are not."

Atlantic City canceled two beach concerts for the weekend, including one for Monday, Blink-182.

In Wildwood, Morey's Piers, which on Saturday announced its water parks would be closing, one for the season, regrouped Sunday at the unexpectedly nice weather  and reopened all three piers and the Raging Waters Water Park.

"Thanks to Mother Nature we are open!" Morey's tweeted, then announced an all day extension of its usual morning $33 water park pass special, to "celebrate Herine passing us by."

Veteran meteorologist Gary Szatkowski said the gorgeous sunrise was the good sign he was waiting for. "The overall trend is good, signaling less of an overall threat from coastal flooding," he said on Twitter.

In Ventnor, the normally hectic holiday Boardwalk was empty early on, with just a few bicyclers and sunrise seekers marveling at the crisp morning, left mostly to the locals. But by mid-morning, people began turning up, and a steady stream headed to the beach as the day wore on.

"Post-Sandy, they have to keep us informed," said Elizabeth LaRocca, whose home in Ventnor Heights flooded during Sandy. "Now look at it - it's gorgeous."

LaRocca lamented that she had brought in all the deck furniture - and had her coffee sitting on the deck itself - but of course was grateful the storm appeared - so far - to be more bust than boom. "I'm happy it didn't get my house like Sandy. We all lived through Sandy when you had the bay up to your front door."

"I feel really bad for businesses," she added.

Domenico Gaggiano, owner of the Chelsea Beach Bar on the Atlantic City beach, said high tide lapped at his bar, but stopped short. He too complained of media hype that sent a lot of people home early. "The media, thanks to you guys," he said. "get it right for once."

Nearby, lifeguards stood on the headquarters near the dunes, red flags still flying to indicate the ocean closed to swimmers, and whistled and bullhorned people out of the ocean, which was still subject to dangerous riptides.

Nearby, Jerry Raynor, 43, and Kristen Zimmerman, 48, of Lancaster, took advantage of the sunshine and had themselves a beach day, albeit a windy one - but sunny. It was Zimmerman's birthday, their rooms were already booked at the Chelsea, and so they decided to stay despite the warnings. "I'm calling it a birthday miracle," Zimmerman said.

On Twitter: Some Jersey shore business people were up early complaining to meteorologists for scaring people off on the critical Labor Day weekend.

More sunrise pictures: