Editor’s Note: This story was updated on November 8 to include more recent information and reflect the specific areas of damage.
It’s hard to imagine anything challenging the iconic images of the Atlantic City boardwalk, with its rough and tumble lifestyle glamorized in shows like HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
But as Hurricane Sandy made landfall last night around 8 p.m., the boardwalk that fronts Absecon Inlet quickly fell prey to the storm’s damaging winds and heightened sea level. And while the surge burst through the streets, small shops, towering hotels and normally bustling casinos were exposed to “the perfect storm,” suffering hit after hit.
“I imagine these buildings are going to have a lot of flooding. Especially the lower floors,” Dr. Alan Blumberg, Stevens Institute of Technology oceanographer, told ABC News. “Atlantic City will look very different tomorrow and the next few days than it did yesterday and the day before. This is just a major situation, major damage.”
A beachfront saltwater taffy shop named Berkeley was completely pummeled by the surge, with its store sign crumbling and falling apart in the wind gusts even before Sandy made landfall.
ABC News’ Ginger Zee came across debris that she discovered was actually sections of the boardwalk that had lifted and flew more than two and half blocks. However, none of the famed boardwalk in front of the casinos was damaged.
“The Atlantic City Boardwalk that was washed out by Hurricane Sandy is an area limited to the Boardwalk fronting the Absecon Inlet only,” Thomas R. Gilbert, District Commander of the Atlantic City Tourism District, told ABC News following our initial report on the damage. “That small section of the Boardwalk is located in South Inlet, a prominent residential section of Atlantic City.”
The expansive beachfront is what experts are predicting will see the most lasting damage. Experts predict the 125 feet of sand on the Atlantic City beachfront will be reduced to just 25 feet after the storm.
“If you are at a hotel looking down at the boardwalk, some of the boardwalk is still there but there are massive sections that have washed away never to be seen again,” Blumberg said. “Atlantic City will never look the same.”
Gilbert, however, says, “The entire oceanfront Boardwalk in front of the Atlantic City casinos is undamaged with all dunes and lights intact. There is minimal-to no-visible damage to the casinos and other businesses fronting the boardwalk along the ocean.”