Casinos spared major damage from storm

Coast casinos‘ move onshore after Hurricane Katrina spared them from serious damage during Hurricane Gustav.

Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Larry Gregory is receiving reports from each of the 11 casinos and will make the decision to reopen when it is safe.

Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi got about two feet of water in the swimming pool and in the lobby, said General Manager Duncan McKenzie. „We had everything of value up,“ and crews were already starting to clean up. „We feel the building held up extremely well,“ compared with when Katrina devastated the hotel just days before the new casino opened.

The Hard Rock guitar sign that had been pictured on so many national newscasts after Katrina was left on through the night Sunday and into Monday when Gustav hit and the water began to rise. „It’s a symbol of resilience,“ McKenzie said.

Silver Slipper Casino, the most western of the Mississippi Coast casinos and closest to Gustav’s landfall, made it through the storm well, said General Manager John Ferrucci. The road along the beach leading to the casino was flooded and there was water up to the front door of Silver Slipper, but the casino floor is two floors up and safe from any storm surge.

„We’ll have a better assessment tomorrow,“ Bob Davidge, spokesman for Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis, said Monday. The road into the casino should be open today and Davidge has had reports of only minor damage because the casino and hotel were rebuilt above the construction standards after Katrina.

The Weather Channel reported from the Island View Casino in Gulfport throughout Sunday night, so viewers across the country could see the floodwaters covering Jones Park and rising on parts of U.S. 90.

„It is a great relief to see that the Mississippi Gulf Coast seems to have fared well in Hurricane Gustav,“ said Rick Carter, co-owner of Island View Casino Resort. „We have made such tremendous strides in moving forward and rebuilding our community since Hurricane Katrina struck three years ago, but Gustav served as a reminder that we must remain vigilant with our hurricane preparation plans and remember to take storm season seriously.

„The Island View property sustained minimal, superficial damage, mostly to the landscaping that faces the Gulf of Mexico. We are truly thankful that the resort is in good shape, our friends, family and team members are, to the best of our knowledge, safe and that we are able to now redirect our attention to reopening the hotel, restaurants and casino at the resort as soon as possible.“

The high water flooded U.S. 90 on Front Beach in Biloxi, by Hard Rock Casino, Beau Rivage Casino and the Isle of Capri. Boomtown Biloxi and IP Casino Resort also had some flooding. Keith Crosby, general manager at Palace Casino, said floodwaters and the curfew kept him from getting back to the casino to check on damage.

Elaine Stevens, public relations manager at IP Casino, said the new hurricane curtains were dropped Sunday before the casino closed. The water from Katrina brought debris into the lobby, and the curtains were designed to prevent that kind of damage.

Beau Rivage Casino also invested in technology to minimize storm damage and Mary Cracchiolo-Spain said the shutdown of the resort went very well and the casino will be ready to reopen when the word comes.