ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY — Hurricane Sandy slammed the coast of New Jersey four days ago, damaging an area popular with residents of nearby urban centers like New York and Philadelphia as well as with people from the Garden State. But the effort to clean up and recover in Atlantic City, New Jersey is already well underway.
Contractors are clearing sand and debris from this street near the beach in the shoreline community of Ocean City, New Jersey. Some houses right up against the beach have had sand driven through the lower floors by giant waves, while others have only suffered minor flooding.
It was sand, formed into high dunes, that saved many New Jersey homes from the devastation seen elsewhere along the coast. But the dunes also took a beating from Hurricane Sandy, so restoring them is one more challenge facing this community.
Thousands of people who left the area during the storm have returned in recent days, enduring long traffic jams. Among those who rode out the storm here is Sha-Ree Lloyd, an avid beach runner.
"It wasn't as bad as everybody thought it would be, and I am grateful for that, but it could have been a lot worse," said Lloyd.
Some casinos and hotels have reopened, but the famous boardwalk is mostly deserted. Workers are still pumping sea water out of underground service lines and trying to restore basic services.
At Atlantic City's landmark Irish Pub, lack of electrical power has forced Dennis O'Donovan to turn customers away.
"We don't close, we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; the only thing that closes us are natural disasters," said O'Donovan. O'Donovan keeps the inventory in place, waiting for the lights to come back on and the clientele to return.
Atlantic City still looks a little bit like a ghost town. But as services are restored and casinos, shops and restaurants reopen, people will return and restore the tourist industry and the many jobs that depend on it in this resort city.