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Business owners say summer season was 'great' despite Hurricane Irene

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- For most beach towns, Labor Day Weekend is considered the end of the summer season; and although the weather is beautiful this holiday weekend, is it enough to get people out and about to make up for last weekend's losses due to Irene’s visit?

This weekend's scene on Wrightsville Beach is about as different as it gets from last weekend's. Hurricane Irene not only damaged homes, businesses and trees. The storm also washed out one of the most important weekends of tourism season.

"It's hard to make up after you lose it,” said DeeDee Shaw, owner of Monkee’s in Lumina Station. “But you just have to go forward."

Shaw said she's fortunate to not have lost any power or goods in the storm, but Irene certainly caused her to lose customers last weekend. Irene shut down most of the town last Friday and Saturday and had people cleaning up Sunday, which means retailers and hotels lost a full weekend of summer business.

"Unfortunately, it was a big detriment for the business itself,” said Nicolas Montoya, General Manager of Blockade Runner on Wrightsville Beach. “It was a big storm that affected a lot of people in many different ways. Thankfully for us, although we don't like to think of it, it was just a financial loss. The building didn't suffer anything. We kept our wonderful yard, and everybody's back this weekend."

Montoya said while the storm put a damper on what's usually a booming business weekend, he can't complain about the season as a whole.

"This past weekend is the only thing we can speak of that didn't really work in our favor,” Montoya said. “So, we'll take that with a grain of salt and move forward because, overall, it's been a great season."

"The season's been great,” Shaw said. “We've seen an increase from last year, which has been a great indication that maybe we are kind of coming out of the recession a little bit. It seems like people are out looking and a little bit more comfortable with their finances."

Both Shaw and Montoya say they are sad to see summer go but are looking forward to fall and the different crowd the cooler season brings.

While both businesses are hopeful for a great fall season, they are very aware that Hurricane Season is still not over.

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