Don Culpepper Reports On Casino Evacuations - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/09/05

Don Culpepper Reports On Casino Evacuations

With only about 24 hours to go before landfall, Mississippi Gaming Commission officials decided they could no longer afford to trust Hurricane Dennis with lives of casino employees and the visitors they serve.

"Officially the patrons were asked to leave effective at 4 o'clock which was the time stated in the order issued by the Board of Supervisors, says Dave Kingman, Special Enforcement Agent for the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The casinos will be required to have all employees off property by midnight.

For folks at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, that order to leave also includes guests of their hotel.

"We had about 600 people on property at the time," says Mary Cracchiolo, Beau Rivage's Assistant Director of Public Affairs. "The hotel guests actually staying at the hotel."

Most took the news to evacuate with good humor.

 "Did a little gambling. Did a little sun, but didn't get to do enough gambling," says Sterling Burroughs of Birmingham Alabama.  "Didn't want to gamble on the storm I guess."

Chip Reynolds of Pensacola Beach Florida says this is just all part of living on the Gulf Coast. And he should know after losing his home to Hurricane Ivan last year.

"I've been living on a house boat since then and I had plans for a big house on the Gulf and it's delayed for the past month," says Reynolds. "So I guess I'm fortunate because they haven't started construction."

Despite having almost 600 guests registered and very short notice to move them out, hotel officials say the effort went smoothly.

"It's been pretty phenomenal, says  Cracchiolo. "We've had great cooperation. It's been very orderly. We got the word about a quarter till 6 and within an hour and a half we've gotten the vast majority of everybody out."

by Don Culpepper 

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