Within one year, Atlantic County was hit by two big storms — first by Tropical Storm Irene followed by the Derecho in June, which knocked out power to hundreds of thousands. Now with Hurricane Sandy approaching, the Coast Guard Station Atlantic City is starting their own storm preparations today.
“We have everything in place to go to work to board up our station, to take our boats to safe haven and to move our people to safe haven so that way when the storm’s over we can come back here and start doing Coast Guard missions,” said Petty Officer First Class Paul Vancore of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Vancore says the Coast Guard Station is mobilizing their 45 coast guardsmen and ensuring the station is stocked with enough food and water. Five boats are prepared for emergency assistance at any moment — two 47-foot motor life boats and three defender class boats.
“There were a lot of lessons learned since Hurricane Katrina, a lot of different measures were put into place so as soon as we know that there’s a storm is coming and it could affect the area we begin the process sooner rather then later.”
Emergency response teams can make all the storm preparations now but there’s little the city’s casinos can do to prepare for the potential loss in revenue. Tropicana Casino and Resort’s CEO Tony Rodeo says his casino is preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. Rodeo says the hurricane will certainly hurt revenue, but the impact won’t be nearly as dramatic from last year’s Tropical Storm Irene. That storm hit on a weekend in the summer during the height of the tourism season in Atlantic City. The casinos were shut down for days.
Atlantic City resident Marvin Wenitsky thinks casino revenues will suffer because of Sandy. “A lot of people are afraid of the weather and won’t come down,” he said.
Representatives of the Division of Gaming Enforcement says they are receiving guidance on the track of Hurricane Sandy through the Office of Emergency Management and the state police and are maintaining regular communication with each casino. If no emergency order is issued, but state offices are closed, the division says the casinos can stay open and essential division personnel will be on duty to ensure the integrity of games and controls aren’t comprised. In the event the governor executes a mandatory evacuation of Atlantic City, division representatives say they will follow the same process used during Tropical Storm Irene and implement an orderly shutdown.
Lauren Wanko reports from Altantic City.