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By Erin O'Neill November 25, 2012

Frank Lautenberg says after Hurricane Sandy much of the boardwalk in Atlantic City no longer exists

Hurricane Sandy washed iconic Jersey Shore landmarks into the sea, but despite what you may have heard -- from social media, television or maybe even a United States senator --  the historic boardwalk fronting Atlantic City’s casinos survived.

Two weeks after the monstrous storm swept through New Jersey, devastating large swaths of the state’s coastline, Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat, took to the Senate floor to describe the destruction and push for funding for recovery efforts.

In his Nov. 13 speech, the senator mentioned damage across the state, but said, "the seashore community was hit especially hard."

"The boardwalk is the defining image of the New Jersey shore. Many of us remember walking on that boardwalk in wonderment of the attractions. The boardwalk has been a constant in the lives of those who live there or visit the shore. But for communities like Belmar, Seaside Heights, the Atlantic City, and others, much of that boardwalk no longer exists -- just the pillars where the boardwalk used to be, as we see it here," Lautenberg said as he showed a photograph of damage to a section of boardwalk in Atlantic City.

"It was a magnificent boardwalk and had people in cars that were -- in wagons that were pushed along, and you would view the sea and the attractions on the other side. And it was painful to see the destruction of the part of the boardwalk in Atlantic City firsthand that day."

Lautenberg’s spokesman, Caley Gray, pointed out the senator did reference "part" of the boardwalk in his speech, but the senator omitted a critical detail: the section of boardwalk in Atlantic City that the storm washed away was in disrepair and much of it had been scheduled for demolition.

The main promenade that runs in front of the city’s casinos remains intact and open for business.

"It is factually accurate that a portion of the boardwalk was destroyed by Sandy," said Jeff Guaracino, chief communications and strategy officer for Atlantic City Alliance, but "it’s not the boardwalk that the average person would typically associate with a visit to Atlantic City."

Atlantic City Alliance, a nonprofit group focused on increasing tourism, has launched a campaign to dispel the rumor that the city’s famed boardwalk was destroyed.

Guaracino said some media outlets, particularly television stations, cut from stock images of the oceanfront boardwalk to the destruction of the dilapidated promenade, leaving viewers with the impression the commercial section of the boardwalk had washed away.

But the walkway destroyed by Sandy stood in a primarily residential neighborhood near the Absecon Inlet. That area of the boardwalk had been deteriorating for decades. Portions of it had collapsed well before the storm and were closed to pedestrians.

Now, Keith Mills, the city’s director of planning and development, said what remains are a "couple of ramps, couple of stairways, but at this point they are ramps and stairways to nothing but a series of pilings in the water."

But that’s not the case for the commercial stretch of the city’s boardwalk.

Gray said in a statement that Lautenberg walked the boardwalk after the storm and surveyed the damage in the inlet section. "The main drag in Atlantic City was fortunate to not have sustained more damage," he said, adding that Lautenberg is working to secure federal funding to fully restore the state’s coastline.

Our ruling

Lautenberg said that because of Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic City, "much of that boardwalk no longer exists—just the pillars where the boardwalk used to be."

The storm washed away a dilapidated section of Atlantic City’s boardwalk -- much of which had been scheduled for demolition -- that runs along the Absecon Inlet. So there’s an element of truth to Lautenberg’s claim.

But the stretch of the boardwalk in front of the casinos -- the area most tourists associate with Atlantic City -- fared the storm well.

Lautenberg’s speech ignored those important details, so we rate this claim Mostly False.

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Our Sources

Congressional Record, Senate Session, Nov. 13, 2012

C-SPAN, Video of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s remarks, Nov. 13, 2012

E-mail from Caley Gray, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Nov. 21, 2012

Interview with Tom Foley, director of emergency management for Atlantic City, Nov. 20, 2012

Interview with Jeff Guaracino, chief communications and strategy officer for Atlantic City Alliance, Nov. 20, 2012

Interview with Keith Mills, director of planning and development for Atlantic City, Nov. 21, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, Atlantic City Alliance tries to get word out that resort's tourism industry, Boardwalk suffered little damage from Sandy, Nov. 9, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, A.C. Boardwalk destroyed? / Counter mistruths, Nov. 2, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, Atlantic City Boardwalk post Hurricane Sandy, Nov. 8, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, THE BOARDWALK'S GONE! Postings perpetuate rumored end of various shore landmarks, Nov. 1, 2012

Philadelphia Business Journal, Atlantic City to tourists: Come back, the boardwalk didn’t wash away!, Nov. 9, 2012, Mythbusters: wrapping up the week re the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Nov. 3, 2012

On the Media, Hurricane Hoaxes and Confused Reporting, Nov. 2, 2012

NBC News, Flooded Atlantic City, parts of historic boardwalk damaged, surveys damage, Oct. 30, 2012, [PHOTOS] NJ After The Storm, Nov. 2, 2012

Time, Boardwalk Catastrophe: Atlantic City Looks to Pick Up the Pieces After Sandy, Nov. 1, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, Atlantic City officials still securing funding, contracts in plan to repair dilapidated sections of the Boardwalk, May 11, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, Rebuilding of crumbling section of Atlantic City's Boardwalk still in doubt, Nov. 27, 2011

NJToday, Atlantic City’s Boardwalk is Alive and Well, Nov. 14, 2012, Belmar's boardwalk destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 30, 2012

The Star-Ledger, Di Ionno: Ravaged Seaside pier and boardwalk tragically displays Sandy's strength, Nov. 1, 2012

The Press of Atlantic City, Timeline of the Boardwalk along Absecon Inlet, Nov. 26, 2011

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Frank Lautenberg says after Hurricane Sandy much of the boardwalk in Atlantic City no longer exists

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