Prince Harry toured two Jersey shore communities ravaged by Sandy on Tuesday, declaring that a sense of "American spirit" was evident in the recovery and resilience of the hard-hit coast.
With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as his tour guide, the prince stopped in the towns of Mantoloking and Seaside Heights on a slender barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean and then went to New York City to promote British trade and a community baseball program.
Every one of Mantoloking's 521 homes was damaged or destroyed by Sandy last October, and scores of homes remain piles of rubble. Residents of the wealthy community, largely a summer retreat, were not allowed to move back until February.
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There, the prince walked along the Barnegat Bay side where many houses were obliterated, surveying destroyed homes and greeting residents. He and Christie also met with first responders.
"It's the American spirit, isn't it? Everyone getting together and making things right," he said. "It's fantastic."
In Seaside Heights, the prince saw an iconic image of the storm: a roller coaster that plunged off an amusement pier and into the ocean. Its demolition began shortly after he left the shore Tuesday.
He also saw the community's rebuilt boardwalk, which is about two-thirds complete. He and Christie stopped to play a few games on the boardwalk as they toured the community.
New Jersey sustained about $37 billion worth of damage from the storm.
The prince arrived in New York City in the early afternoon, stepping off a red double-decker bus in Manhattan with Prime Minister David Cameron as part of a campaign to promote British trade.
Later, the prince visited a baseball diamond in East Harlem, where a royal foundation is involved in a youth baseball program.
While dozens of kids cheered him on, the prince briefly took batting practice from Yankee Mark Teixeira, making contact with all three pitches he saw.
"He's a great athlete. I just said keep your eye on the ball," Teixeira said afterward.
Harry also got some advice from the kids on hitting.
"We were teaching him how to bat," said Rossalyn Arencidia, 9. She said the prince listened and nodded. "I got to say really it was the best thing that ever happened to me."
On Tuesday evening, the prince was the honored guest at a Manhattan fundraiser for the foundation.
The prince began a weeklong visit to the U.S. on May 9.