Not long after the record flooding of Superstorm Sandy receded in late-October 2012, Ocean City officials realized the city faced a potential disaster even greater than the hurricane.Sandy threatened to wash away the summer.The national news media converged on the Jersey Shore and captured photographs and videos of collapsed piers, sunken roller coasters and homes swept off their foundations. The worst of the damage was in central and northern New Jersey, but the indelible images sent a message to the world that the New Jersey’s shore resorts were devastated.Fearing that the media storm would damage the tourist economy so vital to the city and its residents, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean City Tourism Development Commission and the City of Ocean City worked quickly to develop a smarketing message: Ocean City was “Ready for Your Stay.”Ocean City won the New Jersey Tourism Excellence Award for the campaign and was honored at the New Jersey Council on Tourism on Thursday in Atlantic City. Chamber Executive Director Michele Gillian accepted the award at the conference.The groups spent more than $500,000 on a campaign that included advertising through billboards, lifestyle magazines, Internet, social media, print publications and television. The Tourism Commission is funded by assessments on local mercantile licenses and rental unit registrations.The return on investment included more than recognition from New Jersey Tourism. The Chamber reported that:Preseason website visits (oceancityvacation.com) were up 17 percent and telephone inquires increased by 12 percent.2013 summer rentals kept pace with 2012 despite the storm.Motel and inn reservations were up 5 percent.Local amusement park preseason ticket sales were up 8 percent.Coupon redemption from the Official Ocean City Coupon Book and Downtown mailer was up 13 percent and visitors to the Welcome Centers increased more than 130 percent.Sandy made landfall just 20 miles north of Ocean City on Oct. 29, 2012. The storm flattened dunes, left streets buried in sand and filled the first floors of many homes and businesses with deep floodwaters. The damage displaced residents and closed businesses. Even before a mandatory evacuation order was lifted, armies of equipment operators were clearing streets, securing downed wires and launching the cleanup effort. A massive volunteer effort among city, business, church and community leaders followed.“The Ocean City community proved its strength and resilience in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,” the Chamber wrote in its application. “While there was widespread devastation, on a whole, Ocean City was lucky compared to our northern neighbors.”“The storm took enough away from its residents and businesses,” the Chamber wrote. “It was not going to take away their livelihoods, the summer tourism season.”Ocean City was the first New Jersey community to send a message that they survived the storm. Staff members at the visitors centers were trained in how to answer the thousands of phone calls and emails regarding the storm. Guests were encouraged to return and to support the local businesses that desperately needed the commerce. Within weeks of the storm, the Chamber was helping promote businesses that were back open for the holidays.Gillian said on Friday that the seeds of the marketing campaign started with an effort to let people know that Ocean City’s First Night New Year’s Eve celebration would go on as scheduled. More than 8,000 attended.From that time, new elements of the campaign were unveiled every two weeks, culminating in the ceremonial cutting of a mile-long ribbon to “open” the Ocean City Boardwalk on Memorial Day.Gillian credited the teamwork of the Tourism Commission, Chamber of Commerce and city for the success of the campaign.