SHEILAH KAST, host:
The Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, was a 71,000 square foot floating gambling hall with a 1,700 room hotel and restaurant complex on adjacent land. Hurricane Katrina lifted the casino and dropped it on land, and the storm's winds and water devastated the rest of the resort. MGM Mirage, which owns the Beau Rivage, quickly announced plans to rebuild, and the day after the storm the company opened a recovery center in the parking lot of the casino to assist employees. Mike Davis used to be the assistant director of convention sales at the Beau Rivage. He's still employed by the casino but for now as a jack-of-all-trades. Earlier this weekend, he joined us from his home in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to tell us what kind of work he's been doing since Katrina hit.
Mr. MIKE DAVIS: Well, I--jack-of-all-trades is a pretty good handle for it. We have set up a distribution center for our employees, and I've been kind of out there just manning the distribution center with a few other people that work at Beau Rivage. We've set up water stations. We've set up health-screening areas. We've set up a job employment center. And we also have a paycheck distribution center. And I'm kind of a floater. I float around, make sure that everyone's got water, make sure everyone's enjoying themselves while they're standing in line or waiting to speak to a counselor.
KAST: Enjoying themselves in line.
Mr. DAVIS: We try to make it fun for everybody but obviously it's a very serious time for us.
KAST: Paycheck distribution--everybody still being paid?
Mr. DAVIS: They are. Our company has stepped to the plate and said that they're going to pay our employees for 90 days. We're going to have ongoing health benefits for those 90 days, as well. So every two weeks, people come down to our distribution center, they either pick up their paycheck or, if they have direct deposit, that'll be deposited directly into their account.
KAST: Well, what's your sense of how many of the--what proportion of the employees are still close by?
Mr. DAVIS: From what I understand, and I don't have the exact numbers, I do know that the majority of our employees have been in touch with us. Now whether they're still on the Gulf Coast or actually relocated to another area and just kind of waiting this out, I'm not sure what those exact numbers are. But I will tell you that I've been down to the distribution center for the past week and a half, and I've seen a large number of employees that have come through. So my guess would be that a majority of our employees are back on the Gulf Coast.
KAST: Mike, how long have you been with the Beau Rivage?
Mr. DAVIS: I actually started at the Beau Rivage six and a half years ago when we opened our doors in February of 1999.
KAST: Are you going to stick it out for the long haul?
Mr. DAVIS: Oh, yeah, there's no doubt about it. The coast is my home and I do work for a great company, at MGM. They've made a commitment to rebuild here on the Gulf Coast, and I want to be part of that.
KAST: And how about your home?
Mr. DAVIS: Our home, actually, like so many others, we had a lot of flooding in our area. Unfortunately, we were above sea level and were not required to have flood insurance. But we lost pretty much everything inside the house, all of our appliances, all of our furniture, we lost a good bit of clothes and, you know, unfortunately, a lot of my son's toys.
KAST: So how long do you think it's going to take you to get back to where you were?
Mr. DAVIS: Well, as far as the house, we'll rebuild that fairly quickly. We're hoping to be in by Christmas with some help from some local contractors and some friends who know the building business. Hopefully, they'll be able to assist us as we rebuild. Our biggest thing right now is just to make sure we can get in touch with our insurance company to get down here and provide us with the cash in order to rebuild.
KAST: Mike Davis joins us from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, his home. Thanks a lot. Good luck.
Mr. DAVIS: Thank you very much.
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