Atlantic City PR Team Downplays Storm Damage

Quite a bit of the recent Hurricane Sandy news coverage focused on the dramatic damage inflicted on lower Manhattan and areas of New Jersey–specifically Atlantic City. As we reported yesterday, the footage was bad enough to inspire a certain “Boardwalk Empire” fan in Philadelphia to start an advocacy campaign in the hopes of repairing the city’s iconic boardwalk as soon as possible.

Beyond the boardwalk, we’ve also heard reports about damage done to Atlantic City’s most important industry–gambling. When the casinos shut down, so does AC.

But the city and its tourism bureau have begun an understandable effort to push back against these reports of certain doom for a town that’s made a fortune on light-hearted fun. For example, Thomas Gilbert, district commander of AC tourism and employee of the state’s Attorney General, released this statement yesterday:

“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 casinos and other businesses fronting the Boardwalk along the ocean.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk that was washed out by Hurricane Sandy is an area limited to the Boardwalk fronting the Absecon Inlet only. That small section of the Boardwalk is located in South Inlet, a prominent residential section of Atlantic City. It is a small stretch of Boardwalk that is being shown in video footage and photos.”

In other words: it was bad, but it could have been so much worse–and it was for other parts of New Jersey. Reporters on the scene confirmed this fact. While a good bit of regrettable damage was done, it now seems like Atlantic City will be up and running much sooner than the terrible photos would lead one to think.

Officials quickly took to the city’s Facebook page and all other convenient media outlets to broadcast images of a surprisingly sturdy boardwalk. But will the AC team’s efforts work? Will the flood of eager tourists resume as soon as the cleanup is done? How can they counter the popular narrative about a town washed to sea?