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Key to Coastal Rentals: Plan Ahead

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — On this, the beginning of the long Memorial Dayweekend, our beaches arerebounding. Finding an available rental on the coast is nearlyimpossible.

It's a sign of the time and of a hopeful season to come. Vacationers areeager to get the unofficial start of summer underway. Beach propertyowners are ready to make up for some of what was lost last year during thehurricanes.

Most places at Wrightsville Beach are booked up with the exception ofShell Island. It's still under construction. The Holiday Inn is beingtorn down because the damage was too much to repair. Both are remindersof what happened along the North Carolina coast.

Most realtors are already, saying they're booked solid for the summer. Butif you want to vacation on the North Carolina coast, don't be discouraged. You can still find a rental, but the sooner you call, the better.

Town Manager Tony Caudle says the damage has cut down on the number ofrooms available. In areas smaller than Wrightsville Beach, what few roomsare available for rent are full by Memorial weekend.

The hope is that it will stay that way. And aside from the glaringchanges, like the shortened Johnny Mercer Pier, vacationers will see thateverything still looks the way it did before Fran hit.

Tourist Tony Vecchio was surprised at how clean Wrightsville appeared tobe. He credits the area for clearing away the damage. Vecchio says theNew York media portrayed the coast as more heavily damaged, so seeing thebeaches as they are was a welcome find.

What else you'll find on the beaches is sand. A lot of that sand camefrom underneath homes battered by hurricane Fran. Authorities worked tomove the sand back on the beach front. But still a lot of that sand waswashed away. That fact has coastal communities worried about what couldhappen this upcoming hurricane season.

If you're planning on vacationing in an area hit hard by Fran, have asecond or even third choice in mind. Most beach communities still aren'tup to 100% capacity.

Terri Gruca reporting

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