Much Of Atlantic City Still Under Water After Sandy

Audie Cornish talks to Melissa Block about the damage from Sandy in Atlantic City, N.J.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Yesterday, officials said water had covered most of Atlantic City on the New Jersey coast. That water has mostly receded now, and my co-host Melissa Block is there. And, Melissa, where are you, and what are you seeing?

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Well, I'm standing. Audie, right next to what used to be a stretch of boardwalk. The boardwalk at this part of the island is gone. You see the pilings, but the boards have all been washed away. And I met a man, an Atlantic City resident here named Dough Roy(ph) who says he came to see what had happened. Here's what he said.

DOUG ROY: It looks like a war zone.

BLOCK: Yeah.

ROY: Like bombs were dropped there.

BLOCK: Like bombs were dropped. You know, this is just a limited stretch of this boardwalk, I should say, but it is gone. You see sand that has been pushed in by the storm surge well in into the city, a few blocks, rubble all around. The ocean, which I'm looking at right now - it's still very windy here, and the ocean is a steely, angry gray. And it just looks very much like a place where the storm has not quite passed overhead, although it is not raining at this moment.

CORNISH: Melissa, can you tell us a little bit more about what the rest of the city looks like? And also, I'm wondering, does it look like people actually heeded the order from the governor to evacuate?

BLOCK: I think for the most part, they did. I mean, this largely looks like a ghost town. You do see some people who are here taking pictures of what used to be the boardwalk. There was a line outside at one store. A liquor store does seem to be open, and there were people standing outside. But mostly, this city is empty.

The huge casinos that line the boardwalk here are closed. They're illuminated, the signs up on top, but they've been a bit ravaged by the storm. The Tropicana is now the Tropican. I think the Trump Plaza is now the Trum. It's missing the P. There's pretty much no power in the city, except for limited, limited areas like those casino signs. So there's not much for people to come back to.

And I think most people did get out of town. Some people did stay. One of them was a man I met here on the pier, on the boardwalk, 63-year-old Frank Hoops who's lived here all his life. And here's why he stayed.

FRANK HOOPS: I've been through them all and thank God, you know, been safe, you know, I guess. I've been lucky. I have a guardian angel. But I work at a church, too, which helps.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: So he was saying: I've been through all the storms. He's lived here a long time. A lot of these storms hit this part of the New Jersey coast. Mr. Hoops, I should mention, was taking care of some feral cats that live under the boardwalk. He was concerned about them. He had come to see them, and he said they survived the storm just fine.

In fact, in the eye - when the eye of the storm passed over Atlantic City, apparently, according to one of the security guards at a casino, 25 cats were walking single file down the boardwalk looking just fine. And he said the cats he looks after - Pepper, Pewee - they're all fine.

CORNISH: And, Melissa, what do you see in terms of the recovery effort?

BLOCK: Hard to tell what's going on with the recovery effort. We did see a convoy of National Guard, what looked to be Humvees, National Guard vehicles coming in with supplies on the way up here from Washington. We saw fuel trucks headed this way. We saw power trucks. But for right now, the city looks pretty deserted.

And the mayor is responding to criticism from Governor Christie. As you know, Governor Christie said that the mayor had abdicated his responsibility by telling people they could in shelter in place. The mayor has said the governor, Governor Christie, is dead wrong on that, that they needed a shelter of last resort. But there's been a bit of a partisan spat here in New Jersey over the evacuation plan.

CORNISH: That's our co-host Melissa Block in Atlantic City. Melissa, thank you.

BLOCK: You're welcome, Audie.

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