Casinos may be open, but post-Sandy recovery slow for many in Atlantic City

It’s been three weeks since Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast. In Atlantic City — a place where many residents had little to begin with — the needs of storm victims remain high.

Prior to the storm, C.J. Ambrosio lived in a tiny house, not far from the center of town, with her partner and their five young children. Ambrosio’s on disability; her wife works at K-Mart.

Then came Sandy.

“Water came in, windows busted,” Ambrosio said.  They lost everything to nine feet of salt water.

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“My clothes, my sneakers, my TV, everything is destroyed,” Ambrosio said. “My house is destroyed.”

Now, all seven live in a motel in Wildwood with FEMA assistance.

Over the weekend, they came to Atlantic City’s Second Baptist Church for some help.

Plenty of company

Amidst the bustle of organizers coordinating the relief effort, hundreds lined up around the church and the periphery of a lot the size of a football field.

“The need is here anyway, especially food and clothing,” said minister Bob Lewis. “It’s just a greater demand now since the hurricane.”

While Lewis kept the order, volunteers from a Baptist church in New Mexico distributed bedding, clothing, and even pet food.

“Some people are being greedy and taking everything, and some people are being very honest,” said Kim DeLaPorte, who spearheaded the New Mexico group’s effort. She says the work is rewarding but difficult.

“Tensions are high, and people are stressed,” said DeLaPorte. “We’re trying to keep them calm and give them water while they’re waiting and taking toys to the kids.”

Second Baptist Church Pastor Collins Days says in the days since Sandy, this community has been pushed to its limits.

“This is already a marginal community, most of our people live just above the poverty line,” Days said. “So when people lost things here, they lost literally everything.”

Days says don’t be fooled. Although the casinos are open and holiday shopping is picking up, more than 6,000 thousand households in Atlantic City that weren’t in great shape before the storm are far from recovered.

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