Frustrated by the continued ban on travel into the barrier islands, and running low on cash and supplies, some Atlantic City residents walked miles to get into the city via the Black Horse Pike on Thursday morning.
Gov. Chris Christie lifted the ban Thursday into other Atlantic County barrier islands, but the ban remained in Atlantic City and Ventnor.
“It was all about persistence,” said Daniel King. “Our motivation was to get back to the place we call home.”
King and several family members, decided to walk from Franklin Boulevard in Pleasantville to his brother’s Back Maryland home.
“We really were missing our daughters,” King, 26, said. He and his brother, Daniel Pugh, wanted to get home to find out how their daughters Gianna and Cheyenne — each with their mothers — were doing. “We were determined daddies.”
The walk took at least two hours, with most hoping they could make it past the roadblock just outside the bayfront Ramada hotel.
Egg Harbor Township police officers advised travelers over a loudspeaker to turn around in their vehicles if they were not essential or emergency personnel.
“They didn’t say pedestrians, so that didn’t apply to me,” said Aneudi Segura, 27, of Atlantic City.
“Unless you’re walking, the islands are still blocked off,” an officer said at the entry point in the morning.
“They didn’t say anything, I just minded my own business and walked in,” Segura said. “I had my license in my hand just in case.”
Yasmin Vazquez, 43, took the chance with her sister Lucia, and 8-year-old daughter, Yatzin, and arrived by 11:30 a.m. After trying for three days by car, the three decided to walk two hours from Main Street in Pleasantville to Iowa Avenue in Atlantic City.
Yasmin Vazquez stayed in Pleasantville with her brother-in-law during the storm, but the power was still out Thursday and the food supply was running low, so they decided to take the chance and walk the 6 miles, she said.
King and five others with him — including his brother’s 10-year-old niece, Ta 'Myrah Pugh — decided to do the same thing when they were barred by car around Franklin Boulevard in Pleasantville.
They already had borrowed hundreds of dollars to pay for lodging at places King said “jacked up rooms to holiday and weekend prices because of this catastrophe” and were “running out of supplies, money, gas and everything.”
Along the way they rested and took photos — even taking time out to use a downed road sign as a make-shift slide.
“It was actually a fun walk,” King said. “We just put one foot in front of the other and kept on trucking down Route 40.”
They even used wood planks they found to cover a hole by the railroad tracks so they could cross over. Eventually, they had to cross over to Route 40.
“Once we saw the ‘Welcome to Atlantic City: Always Turned On’ sign, we just hugged each other.”
It took more than two hours, but they made it, and they got to check in on their daughters.
King couldn’t stay at his Chelsea home, so he headed to his brother’s in Back Maryland.
“I know I have power, because my aunt lives close by and she told me she had it, so I know,” Segura said.
He said he was just tired of waiting around and depending on others for shelter and food.
“I had to physically find out for myself if I could get on, but people were telling me there was no way,” Segura said a few hundred feet inside the road blocked area of Route 40. “I don’t want to wait for the authority and government to decide, so I took the first step.”
Segura said that he was also anxious about his belongings and wanted to get back to his home, and he was scheduled to work on Saturday.
“People’s property is abandoned and their stuff is being stolen because it is so easy to grab, and especially in this economy,” Segura said.
After the morning influx of pedestrians, a group of six — four adults and two children — had been turned away at around 1 p.m. The group had been called by someone who made it in, and came with all their belongings and bags to try and pass through the barrier.
“Next time there is a storm, a majority of the people are going to stay, and there will be a lot of deaths, and they will blame authorities because they didn’t allow people back (this time),” Segura said.
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