Atlantic City’s poorest residents had next to nothing going into the storm, and they came out of it with even less.

In the shadow of multibillion-dollar casinos that now boast of having come through Superstorm Sandy just fine, urging gamblers to return with their wallets, many of the seaside gambling resort’s least fortunate endure hardship with quiet resignation — even gratitude for the help they’re getting.

Some lost heat, hot water or electricity for days, weeks. They lost many of their meager possessions, their food, and most of their clothes. But instead of complaining about what they don’t have, many say they feel blessed for what remains.

Lonzie Tolbert’s basement took on 6 feet of water, ruining his furnace. He has no heat, so he burns small pieces of wood and scraps of paper in a fireplace to try to keep warm. He has no hot water, so he tries to heat some in a kettle near the fireplace.

“You do the best you can with what you have,” said the 84-year-old Tolbert, sunning himself on a 66-degree afternoon outside his home three blocks from Revel, a $2.4 billion casino resort. “I can’t complain and I’m not hollerin’.”

Life was tough for many Atlantic City residents even before the storm hit Oct. 29. One in four Atlantic City residents lives in poverty, according to Census figures, a rate that has remained unchanged since 1970. That’s well above the national rate.

When an emergency shelter at the Atlantic City Convention Center closed over the weekend, 100 people were still there and had to be moved to hotels, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, or to the homes of friends. And about 20 percent of the apartments at Stanley Holmes Village, a 443-unit low-income public housing project, remain uninhabitable since the storm.

“These are people who have already had tremendous struggles in the first place,” said the Rev. Collins Days Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church, which helped distribute supplies over the weekend.

“Tough times and being without is nothing new to them. But we realize it could have been a whole lot worse, and we are not as bad off as our neighbors to the north,” he said. “There’s a lot of help out there, and they are grateful to it and to God.”

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