Sandbagged Atlantic City Casinos Silent And Dark As Gloria Approaches With PM-Gloria Bjt
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Gamblers fled the blackjack tables, slot machines were carted to higher ground, and state troopers turned away new arrivals as the East Coast gaming capital girded for the onslaught of Hurricane Gloria.
Workers at the 11 major casino hotels that have spruced up this aging resort’s image and lifestyle since legalized gambling began 7 years ago built bulwarks of sandbags Thursday as Gov. Thomas Kean declared a state of emergency in the state.
State troopers and local police were stationed on the three highways leading into this city, which is located on Absecon Island, Thursday night to prevent anyone from entering the city. The city’s 38,000 residents were urged to seek shelter at schools and emergency evacuation plans were made as Gloria approached.
Officials at Atlantic City Medical Center - a block from the ocean - moved severely ill patients to mainland hospitals. A hospital spokesman said as many as 250 patients could be moved if orders to evacuate the city are given.
At least two casino-hotels, Harrah’s Marina and Trump Casino Hotel, were dark and empty hours before midnight, when the others were scheduled to close.
Casino operators expected to lose thousands, perhaps millions of dollars in business. The city’s casinos reported gross revenues of $229.7 million in August.
″We’re bracing for it like everyone else is,″ said Glenn Lillie, a spokesman for Del Webb’s Claridge Hotel and Casino. ″Obviously, life and limb is the priority.″
The Atlantic City Expressway’s westbound lanes were jammed with cars of people fleeing.
″There is, without question, a sense of emergency here,″ said Col. Clinton L. Pagano, superintedent of state police.
Lillie said the Claridge, like several of the other giant hotels, asked guests to leave. Others, including Resorts International, were providing shelter for the stranded guests, but accepting no new guests.
Gambling on the normally packed casino floors had virtually stopped by early evening, officials said.
Preparations for the storm began Thursday morning, as Gloria was still several hundred miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C. and moving northwest.
Officials at the 32-story Trump Casino Hotel placed plywood sheets over ground-level floors. The hotel’s antique automobile collection, normally viewed from glass windows along the Boardwalk, was driven to safety, said casino spokesman Steve Sless.
At the Claridge, officials moved hundreds of slot machines from the casino. The machines were taken to the eighth floor, well out of the way of potential flooding, Lillie said.
Sandbags were piled up near entrances to Harrah’s Marina.
Tropicana officials at first planned only to move guests from rooms facing the ocean, said spokeswoman Virginia McDowell. But a decision to clear the hotel was made after weather officials forecast early Thursday evening that Atlantic City could face hurricane conditions within 24 hours, she said.