Gulf Coast Casinos Brace For Storms, As Louisiana Gets Federal Assistance
Posted on: August 24, 2020, 01:52h.
Last updated on: August 24, 2020, 03:40h.
At least one New Orleans-area casino was closed on Monday, Aug. 24, as two major storms barreled north across the Gulf of Mexico toward the Crescent City.
Boomtown Casino in Harvey, La., was closed Aug. 24 “until further notice,” Security Supervisor Paxton Pou told Casino.org.
This comes as the two tropical storms, Marco and Laura, zeroed in on the Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Marco, with winds of 35 mph or more, was expected to make landfall on Monday, Aug. 24, in the New Orleans area and then veer westward toward Houston, according to The Weather Channel.
Tropical Storm Laura, expected to be upgraded to hurricane status, could hit the coast near the Louisiana-Texas border by Wednesday, Aug. 26. It would then rip through north Louisiana and Arkansas before turning toward the east, the Weather Channel reported. During peak hurricane season in August and September, Gulf Coast casinos sometimes are battered by high winds and rain, having a negative impact on revenues.
The security supervisor at Boomtown Casino said the property was closed temporarily because it is located near a canal flood wall. Harvey is south of downtown New Orleans on the opposite side of the Mississippi River.
Much of the New Orleans area is at least 4 feet below sea level — and up to 9.84 feet below sea level in some places, according to the US Geological Survey. This poses flooding concerns during storms, especially for buildings and homes near canals and other waterways.
Hurricanes and tropical storms normally bring broad swaths of wind and rain and leave widespread flooding. Storms are classified as hurricanes when they reach sustained winds of 74 mph or more.
Magnolia State Casinos on Alert
Meanwhile, next door in Mississippi, the state Gaming Commission issued a precaution, urging patrons and employees to stay away from casinos beginning on the morning of Monday, Aug. 24, until weather conditions are more favorable.
While we do not plan to require properties to shut down at this time, I am requesting that you discourage any patrons or staff from arriving at your properties after 10 a.m. Monday morning, until further notice,” Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey said in an email to Casino.org.
He said casinos should discourage patrons who are already on the property from leaving after 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 24, “until conditions allow for safe travel.”
“This could, of course, change. But please make every effort to discourage arrivals and departures at the property during severe weather,” Godfrey said. “I also ask that you use the time to sanitize and clean all areas of the property while visitation is reduced.”
So far this year, a least one of Mississippi’s 26 commercial casinos, the Silver Slipper along the coast in Bay St. Louis, suspended some of its operations under threat of severe weather.
Aid For Louisiana
With the storms closing in, President Donald Trump approved a request from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for federal storm assistance.
“We’ve never seen two hurricanes hitting the same state back to back within 48 hours, as is anticipated in the coming days in Louisiana,” the governor said in a statement on his website. “At the same time, we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes the prospect of evacuations, search and rescue, and mass sheltering complicated and difficult.”
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