Earthquake damage at Gran Casino Los Angeles
COPING WITH DISASTER - EARTHQUAKE IN LOS ANGELES Los Angeles, Chile, March 2010
At 3.36 am on 27 February 2010 – shortly be- fore the close of the previous gaming day – the Bio-Bio region in central Chile began to shake as an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale hit the country. In Los Angeles, some 150 km from the epicenter, the earth- quake registered 8.6 and brought the city to a standstill.
Some 200 guests were still in the casino at the time, so obviously our first priority was to get them to safety. Staff at Grand Casino Los Angeles had rehearsed emergency and evacuation procedures on many occasions and, while the situation is always different in real life, they kept their cool, did their jobs and helped customers to leave the premises like true professionals.
Parts of the ceiling began to collapse as gaming staff secured the chips and cards,
but luckily they all got out of the building unharmed. The bar area suffered the most damage, and with no power, no communica- tion facilities and no phone network, we had to switch temporarily to a back-up generator for emergency lighting.
We assured guests they would get everything back (chips, slot cards, etc.) when the situa- tion normalized and the casino reopened. There was still a lot of money in the casino, but with no police support available, we de- cided to double our own security and restrict access to the premises.
The government declared the region a disas- ter area, restricted the purchase of gasoline immediately and brought the armed forces in to monitor the situation. To save fuel for the generators, we had to switch to emergency lighting during night hours. Even the CCTV system had to be turned off, and with obser- vation the only security option possible, I re- mained in the casino around the clock with our Security and Surveillance Manager at the time of the earthquake, Gottfried Hiebler.
When electricity was finally restored four days later, the last gaming day’s final count and closing was carried out immediately and all money transferred to the bank.
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