Atlantic City casinos and the local government continued business as usual — for the most part — Friday as other shore areas announced mandatory evacuations in advance of the expected severe weather spurred by Hurricane Sandy.
Police started setting up a command center inside the Atlantic City Convention Center Friday.
Atlantic City Public School District also decided to suspend classes Monday and Tuesday so those buildings — in addition to the All Wars Memorial Building —- can serve as shelters for residents, said Elementary Supervisor of Extracurricular Activities and 2nd Ward City Councilman Marty Small.
"We're not going to evacuate our residents miles away like last time," Small said, referring to Hurricane Irene in August 2011. "We believe we have buildings here in the city that are safe. So that's the plan for now."
The Wave parking garage also will waive fees so people can get their cars to high ground and out of the way of flooding, Small said.
But otherwise, the resort headed into the weekend as it normally would, save an afternoon conference call and weather monitoring among local leaders.
“We’re taking it day by day,” Atlantic City Jitney Association President Tom Woodruff said. “Plans are in place, and depending on the situation, we’ll be running our regular route or helping to evacuate people.”
Other public transportation operators indicated they will stick to normal schedules for the time being during the conference call, Woodruff said.
More details are expected from local government officials during a press conference at noon today at City Hall.
As of Friday evening, Absecon Island was not included in the mandatory evacuations scheduled to start Sunday for Brigantine to the north and Cape May County barrier islands to the south.
Last year marked the first such order for Absecon Island in history for Hurricane Irene.
Although ultimately underwhelming, the storm's predicted severity prompted the evacuation order — the only thing that can force local casinos to close, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
If state offices close without an evacuation order, DGE officials have a plan in place to maintain casino coverage and ensure operations and regulatory compliance continues, spokeswoman Lisa Spengler said.
So for now, the local gambling industry plans to operate as usual.
Information will be posted on websites for Resorts Casino as well as Caesars Entertainment’s Showboat, Bally's, Harrah's and Caesars Atlantic City properties, company spokeswomen said.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City spokeswoman Laura Powers recommended guests call the casino with questions.
Tropicana Casino Resort representatives said they will post any related updates and information to the company's Facebook page and Twitter account.
Tropicana was among local businesses that started using Sandy as a promotional tool Friday.
The casino operator issued a press release advising potential customers that the storm would not derail its planned Halloween events, Restaurant Week offerings or other operations.
Maloney’s Uptown blasted its Facebook followers Friday afternoon to let them know about its “End of the World Party” featuring discounted food and drink at the Tennessee Avenue bar.
“Atlantic City will be decimated by Hurricane Sandy as early as Sunday!!!! We have coolers full of beer, liquor storerooms full of liquor, refrigerators full of food and it all needs to go before we all drown!” the message read. “This party starts now and will go until this storm passes or we die a horrible death! LOLOLOL.”
At this point, that’s an exaggeration. But meteorologists stressed Friday that 10-foot high floodwaters, hurricane-force winds and devastating damage all remain very real possibilities.
Staff writer Donald Wittkowski contributed to this report.
Contact Emily Previti:
Follow Emily Previti on Twitter @emily_previti