Atlantic City has gone through some challenging times with Hurricane Sandy. In the aftermath, there are new building code requirements for Jersey Shore areas. Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider says the new requirements will cost his residents. He also expressed disappointment that there has been no official visit to his city since Hurricane Sandy hit.
Langford said his residents will be caught between a rock and a hard place with the new building requirements. “Obviously there is going to be a tremendous cost associated with raising homes above the flood plain level or either failure to do so will ultimately result in higher flood insurance cost,” he said. “So either way there’s some pain that’s going to be inflicted still in the aftermath of Sandy.”
Officials in many of the coastline Atlantic County towns are discussing what the best course of action is collectively and for each respective community, according to Langford.
Gov. Chris Christie and Langford exchanged some harsh words regarding Langford’s decision to allow residents to shelter within Atlantic City instead of evacuate before Hurricane Sandy hit. Langford said he respects that Christie has a job to do, but said he has an obligation to his constituents and that’s how he operates.
“Sometimes the governor and I happen to be on the same page and sometimes we’re not. Sometimes our interests converge and sometimes those interests are diverging, going in different ways. On those occasions where our interests are aligned, we can work together and there’s no problem there,” Langford said. “But I’m always first and foremost going to look out for the best interest of the residents of Atlantic City and do so in a way that they would have me do it.”
Lanford said he is upset that there has been no official visit to Atlantic City from Christie or Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, especially considering the importance the city holds for the state as an economic engine.
“An official visit has been made by the governor and/or the lieutenant governor to Brigantine, Ventnor and Margate and Longport. But there has been no official visit made to the city of Atlantic City. Our demographic profile as you know is mostly minority and we happen to be Democratic,” Langford said. “Those other communities that I referenced are Republican and happen to be primarily Caucasian so I think the answer speaks for itself.”
Atlantic County officials had harsh words for Langford regarding his state of the city address where he criticized them for not having evacuation plans for the city during Hurricane Sandy. Langford said he just wants to see a plan for the future.
“We don’t need to engage in a verbal joust going back and forth about who said what, who did what. The county says they have a plan. I say they do not as it relates to designated shelters for the city of Atlantic City’s residents,” Langford said. “All you or anybody needs to do is to ask the county to send you a copy of that plan. And while you’re at it they can send me one too because we sure as hell don’t have it.”
Langford said he would not change his response to an impending storm like Hurricane Sandy if residents responded the same way they did in late October. “Over 30,000 of our residents evacuated on their own and we the city evacuated another 6,000,” he said. “If you do the math, that means we had a 92 percent evacuation rate and I would dare say that we probably had a better success rate in terms of evacuation than any other city along the coast.”
While many Jersey Shore communities were devastated by the storm, Langford said Atlantic City was somewhat spared. He said some sections of the city’s boardwalk saw catastrophic damage, but “for the most part, the majority of our boardwalk came through this thing relatively unscathed.”
He said he wished more attention was brought to the fact that Atlantic City had done well. “Had the governor walked the boardwalk with the president, the message would have been sent loud and clear for the whole nation to see that Atlantic City’s boardwalk is just fine,” Langford said.