Marilyn Mohler walked down a temporary entrance ramp. She stopped when she noticed her gold painted hand prints on the wall. She placed her hands over the paint and said, "This is it. This is my hand print."
After Katrina walloped Treasure Bay, the casino's slot worker had nothing to do with those hands. So, she took classes and learned some construction trades. But now that her casino is open again, those hands are helping Treasure Bay get back on its feet. For Mohler, returning to the property was therapeutic.
"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, we're actually here,'" she said. "We're happy to be back here at Treasure Bay."
A collage of 200 employee hand prints line Treasure Bay's temporary entrance. Across from the prints are pictures of the casino, before, during and after the horrific hurricane.
A somewhat emotional Mohler looked at those pictures and said it was "like an end and a beginning. It's sad that we lost that ship, because that's where I started from. And every time I see that, it's sad. But then again, now that we're open here, it's like the excitement is there again. It's a good feeling to be back at work."
Dutch Carr felt that excitement. The operations manager was actually at work two days after Katrina tore apart the old pirate ship. He was part of a small group of Treasure Bay employees who desperately tried to salvage pieces of the casino's past.
"Wow," Carr exclaimed when asked why the reopening was so important to him. "It's been working with the team that we had here, and doing just whatever it took to bring Treasure Bay back to where it is today."
Today, Treasure Bay is confined to a small room on the north side of Highway 90. A tiny slot room, a restaurant, and a bar are crammed into the old Pirate's Den lounge. That area is playing a big role in the casino's post Katrina recovery.
"We just knew we had to do it," the operations manager said. "We knew we had to bring it back, and bring it back like you see it."
The pirate ship is gone. But Treasure Bay is back. And 200 employees are glad to have their hands in the recovery effort.
"This morning I came to work at two in the morning, everybody who came through the door I told them welcome to Treasure Bay," said Mohler. "That feels good. It really feels good."