Hurricane Nate Causes Gulf Coast Casino Shutdown

Posted on: October 9, 2017, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: October 9, 2017, 03:23h.

Hurricane Nate made landfall close to the mouth of the Mississippi on Saturday night as a Category 1 storm, battering the costs of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with 85 MPH winds, and causing an almost 20-hour shutdown of Mississippi’s 12 Gold Coast casinos.

Hurricane Nate Shuts Down Gold Coast Casinos
The elevator lobby at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi, captured on video by storm-chaser Mike Theiss. Despite the alarming footage, damage was minimal to the Nugget and the rest of the Gold Coast’s casinos. (Image: Mike Theiss)

The Mississippi Gaming Commission gave the order to shutter casinos for business by 5pm on Saturday evening, although guests and staff could remain inside. The commission gave the OK to reopen 11.30am on Sunday.

Scott King, VP of marketing at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi, told the Biloxi Sun Herald there had been 300 guests in the hotel when Hurricane Nate hit, many of whom had never experienced a hurricane before.

“They bonded,” he said.

The last time the Coast casinos closed due to a hurricane was Hurricane Isaac in August 2012, a storm of a similar strength to Nate, and before that, Hurricane Gustav, in 2008. On each occasion, the casinos were closed for three days.

Minimal Damage

No deaths or injuries were reported on the US mainland and structural damage was minimal, as the storm’s strength diminished to a tropical depression as it moved north into Alabama and towards Georgia.

Over 100,000 people in Mississippi and Alabama were without power on Sunday morning and about 6,800 in Florida, although electricity began to be restored throughout the day.

Of all the casinos, perhaps the Golden Nugget got the worst of it. Water washed into the Golden Nugget’s elevator lobby and flooded the pool area, but did not reach the gaming floor, which lies at 27 feet. The flooding caused little damage, however.

“Just what we expected. Mud on the pool deck,” said Chett Harrison, general manager of Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi. “Just left a muddy mess.”

“Everyone Safe”

The Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis was largely unscathed, despite being right on the water. “We never lost power and the water never got near the building,” said General Manager John Ferrucci.

Likewise, the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville.

“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,” said CEO LuAnn Pappas.

“We are thankful because this looked like it was going to be a freight train barreling through the city,” Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the city of Biloxi told the Associated Press.