Customers say they're glad to be back playing slots at Blackbird Bend Casino near Onawa, Iowa.
ONAWA, Iowa (KTIV) -
While most have tried to put the floods of 2011 behind them, some are still trying to bounce back from the physical and financial damage. More than 100 people lost jobs when CasinOmaha was flooded.
This past weekend, the casino near Onawa re-opened with a new name of Blackbird Bend. There are now slot machines where the old restaurant used to be. Most are new because only a few survived being storage from the floods.
Owned by the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, employees have worked long hours to get the limited space, and the machines up and running.
"It's a new beginning for the tribe. They're very nice people. They bring people to work. They bring money to the area. The economy always strengthens when that happens. Everybody seems to be pretty happy," said Bill Walsh, Blackbird Bend Casino CEO.
"And to see them come back today and play and enjoy themselves, it's really rewarding. Makes all the hard work worth it," said Willard Freemont, Jr., Blackbird Bend Casino IT Manager.
Blackbird Bend has 73 workers on the job and hopes to have 200 machines operational by the end of February.
Customers say they're glad to be back.
"I'm very pleased to see it open and see this many machines in here. I didn't really think there would be this many machines," said Tina McMullin, Macy, Nebraska.
Using the restaurant space is temporary. There are plans to build a new casino southeast of the existing building. Construction will start in March and could open in the spring of 2014. And in case of another flood, the base of the new casino will be built six feet higher.
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