Atlantic City Ghost Town as Hurricane Irene Approaches

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Atlantic City Hurricane Irene

The US second largest gambling destination, Atlantic City, has been completely evacuated in anticipation for Hurricane Irene.

The storm had weakened to a Category 1 but was expected to bring high damaging winds and a strong storm surge.  A storm of similar strength, Hurricane Belle, completely flooded neighboring Long Beach Island in 1976.  That system tracked a little further out to sea than Irene’s current forecast track, which takes her right along the New Jersey coast.

This weekend is typically among the busiest for Atlantic City.

"Closing down for the busiest day of the week, in the busiest month of the year may cause significant financial loss for the casinos, but that’s nothing compared to people’s lives," said Dan Heneghan, spokesman for the Casino Control Commission.

Last August, the city’s 11 casinos raked in $11.2 million a day, commission records show. In 2006, when a budget stalemate shut down the state for three days, the casinos reported a loss of more than $50 million.

The last major tropical cyclone to cause significant damage to the Atlantic City area was Hurricane Donna in 1960.  That category 2 storm caused a surge of up to 6 feet.

One of the worst hurricanes on record to have struck Atlantic City was the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane with a storm surge of over 9 feet.  Hundreds of homes were destroyed and the boardwalk washed away.

- Gilbert Horowitz,

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