UK & World News
Sandy: 'Mass Destruction' In Atlantic City
When the people of Atlantic City emerged from wherever they had been sheltering against Superstorm Sandy, there was only thing they wanted to see.
A stretch of the city's iconic boardwalk, ripped up and thrown inland, has become a nationwide symbol of the devastating impact of nature's assault on the New Jersey shore.
Ever since, locals have been stopping by: Simply to stare in wonder, or pick through what remains of the demolished boardwalk and abandoned buildings knocked over by Sandy.
The beach is littered with all kinds of debris: Massive chunks of timber, long buried maritime metal work, bits of brick wall, even local newspapers from as far back as 1974.
The site, at the end of Atlantic Avenue, has become something of a tourist attraction.
John Paxton, a lifelong resident of Atlantic City, said: "This is the first time I have been down to see it. It is devastating, it looks like a bombed-out area.
"It is the first time I've seen mass destruction like this."
Like many, the 75-year-old ignored evacuation warnings. He saw out Sandy in a house which stands alone on a patch of waste ground four blocks from the beach.
He showed us how three feet of flood water had even left the food drawers in the bottom of his fridge filled with foul water. His home of 57 years is now caked in mud and sludge.
He said: "When I saw the road outside had become a river, there was nothing else to do. I went to bed."
Atlantic City has now begun a massive clean-up operation and almost every street is dotted with piles of damp or destroyed furniture and carpets.
Close to the bay, Kathleen Fitzgerald was dragging plastic rubbish bags full of soaking home goods out on to the pavement.
She says this is the first time that the city has been hit badly by a hurricane-like storm after several warnings came to nothing over the years.
"In a way we were lucky," she said. "As far as my family and all my neighbours, no loss of life, no injuries, so everyone did good."
Red Cross volunteers in the city say even those who prepared well for the storm are now running low on resources.
Catherine Barde said: "This has been incredibly difficult for the residents of this community. It is so completely devastating."
But she says that community spirit has helped: "Everyone comes together at a time like this."
It is perhaps a sign of the scale of Sandy that even Atlantic City's famed casinos were forced to close, at a cost of $5 million a day.
They will re-open and the city will re-build with the spirit demonstrated by residents like Shelley Grossman.
When the storm hit her apartment block, she said, residents retired to a safe room: "We were playing bingo during the height of the storm, it was like being on the Titanic, the music playing as the ship was going down.
"But it kept us all calm."
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