Coast casinos closed on Saturday by 5 p.m. as forecasts for then Tropical Storm Nate had it strengthening to a Category 2 Hurricane.
Hurricane Nate came through South Mississippi as a Category 1 storm, and although some of the casinos saw storm surge into their parking garages and pools, they were ready for business when Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, announced they could reopen at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
The shutdown was less than 20 hours, and while Hurricane Nate left a mess to clean, only minor damage was reported.
“Just what we expected — mud on the pool deck,” said Chett Harrison, general manager of Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi.
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The water washed into the pool area and ground level elevator landing and soon receded, he said Sunday morning. “Just left a muddy mess.”
Video from storm chasers broadcast on national television showed water inside the Golden Nugget elevator lobby. The water did not reach the casino floor, which starts at 27 feet, said Scott King, vice president of marketing and resort operations at the casino. Four feet of water came into this area.
While the casino floors were closed, the casino hotels were allowed to stay open during Nate.
“We had 300 people in the hotel last night,” King said. Some had never been through a hurricane before and he said, “they bonded.”
Golden Nugget’s casino reopened by around noon Sunday.
Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis is right on the water but General Manager John Ferrucci said, “We never lost power and the water never got near the building.”
Water did get up to the new pool and he said crews were cleaning that area Sunday morning.
It’s been a week of mayhem for some of the employees at Coast casinos, who were in Las Vegas at the Global Gaming Summit last weekend when 58 people were killed and returned to Biloxi in time for Nate.
Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville reported no damage, flooding or loss of power during Hurricane Nate and the casino casino floor Sunday morning.
CEO LuAnn Pappas said they kept the hotel, restaurant and lounge open for the staff, guests and even pets who stayed during Nate.
“Thankfully everyone is safe, and our leadership team is tremendously thankful to those who stayed and helped to expeditiously close and then re-open the casino floor and all other outlets,” she said.
The Beau Rivage restaurants and resort reopened at Noon Sunday and the casino at 1:30 p.m. as crews cleared downed branches and leaves from the entrance.
Several of the casino parking garages were flooded with storm surge, as they typically do during tropical weather, and the ground floor of Hard Rock Casino Biloxi also had water.