Michelle Clay-Wilks is all smiles as she works at the Island View's Player's Club. These days she has a lot more to smile about.
"I'm a new employee. I started about eight or 10 days ago, signed up for the player's Club, thought I would like the job and found out that I do like it," Clay-Wilks says.
Clay-Wilks worked at another coast casino before the storm. She and her family had to relocate just to survive.
"It put me out of work for a good year. I moved to Atlanta, came back and pretty much had to start all over. It's doing good now. I have no complaints there," she says.
John Graham and his family also left the area after the storm. But an opportunity at the Island View beckoned him back. He's been on the payroll for two months. He is excited about his new job as the Supervisor of the C & G Grille and the perks that come with it.
"The benefits here are excellent. It definitely makes life easier when you know your job is taking care of you and you can go to the doctor to take care of your family," Graham says.
Clay-Wilks and Graham are just 2 of the 600 employees the casino has added to its payroll for the Phase Two expansion. Casino owner Rick Carter says he's glad the casino is fully staffed for this phase of the expansion and that the casino is providing opportunities for many here in the community who lost so much.
"We had a lot of positions. We've been very fortunate that we've had a lot of people in the area that we're a little bit closer to. It's worked out good for us. People are working hard, and getting the best," Carter says.
The grand opening of the expansion is set for 6 p.m. Monday.
The public is invited to attend.
Phase Three of the casino expansion, which includes Emeril's restaurant and a parking garage, is scheduled for mid-June. Carter says more expansion plans are also in works.