TUNICA, MS (WLOX) - Gold Strike Casino Resort Tunica reopened Wednesday, just two weeks after rising Mississippi River floodwaters forced a mandatory closure of all of Tunica County's nine casinos.
The Mississippi River reached its crest on May 10, 2011 at 47.8 feet, the second highest reading on record, surpassed only by the 48.7-foot crest in February 1937.
Gold Strike successfully prevented Mississippi River water from entering the resort and the recently-renovated facility remains undamaged. Among others, company leaders credit the dedication of its 1,400 team members, including 150 employees from its Biloxi sister property Beau Rivage, for keeping the building safe.
"We're anxious to open our doors for our customers and to get our employees back to work," said George P. Corchis, Jr., president and COO of MGM Resorts International Regional Operations. "Our initial priority was the safety of our employees and guests. Once secure, our focus turned to mitigation efforts and asset protection. Now comes the exciting part, where we get to bring our incredible employees back to reopen the property and re-ignite tourism to the region."
MGM Resorts guaranteed Gold Strike employees full pay and benefits including tips, throughout the closure. For employees who live in flooded areas, MGM Resorts is helping facilitate access to company emergency relief funds and federal assistance.
The employee health clinic, located across the levee from the resort, has remained open during the shutdown and human resource representatives are onsite seven days a week. In addition, a temporary dining facility, known as the "Levee Café," has been open 24/7 for employees, emergency management and other government officials, first responders, gaming industry employees and anyone else interested in a free hot meal during the resort's temporary closure.
More than 50 Gold Strike employee volunteers also received Red Cross training in damage assessment and shelter operations.
MGM Resorts International used large-scale Aqua-Barrierâ and Army Corps of Engineers-certified HESCOâ baskets to safeguard Gold Strike from the Mississippi River. Thirty five hundred linear feet of the 8 ft. high x 100 ft. long Aqua-Barriers - each filled with 90,000 gallons of rising floodwater- were used to successfully envelop the entire circumference of the main structure and outbuildings.
HESCO baskets – wire mesh nets filled with gravel and interconnected like blocks – covered 2,000 linear feet and formed an additional line of defense around the facility. More than 40,000 sandbags were filled for added protection.
These technologies essentially created a mile-long manmade levee system around the 1.4 million sq. ft. resort. Four mooring columns that support the barge structure were also extended by 5 ft. in height to help support expected water level increases.