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Atlantic Beach Waits for Tourists to Blow in

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ATLANTIC BEACH — Atlantic Beach resembles a ghost town more than a popular tourist spot this weekend.

Business owners who had to shut down during Hurricane Bonnie are banking on them to return and make up for lost profits.

You cannot keep kids away from the beach, any more than parents can stand to keep them inside.

"We were tired and got cabin fever. and we were tired of being in the house," tourist Kim Reynolds said. "Kids were driving us crazy."

But in the wake of Hurricane Bonnie, many people are staying away from Atlantic Beach. On a typical Saturday, there would be thousands of tourists there.

"This time we've dug up a quarter," treasure hunter James Law said. "We may be on our way to getting a cheeseburger."

Saturday more people are carrying metal detectors than beach blankets. They are hoping to find buried treasure just below the surface of the shifted sand.

Bill Murphy's family surf shop has been a gold mine since 1951. They re-opened Saturday morning for the first time since Monday. They are cleaning up, repairing some minor damage, and hoping business picks up again soon.

"We hope the tourist come back, and I think they will," Murphy said. "I think they will."

Betty Rush can't re-open her business yet. Bonnie blew her front door open, cracked it in half and let some water in. The Raleigh resident just opened her beachfront shop three weeks before Bonnie hit.

"I cried on the way home, and I figured God was with me and he'd make sure everything came out okay," Rush said.

Bonnie did show some mercy to Atlantic Beach, but some businesses are having a hard time recovering. The windows at one restaurant are still boarded up. They don't have power, and don't know when they can open their doors to the few tourists who are here.

Although Hurricane Danielle isn't expected to hit the coast, some business owners are afraid she'll scare tourists away for another week.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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