Nate downgraded, Gulf Coast starts recovery

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BILOXI, Miss. (Associated Press) - Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos have been given the all-clear to reopen while the region recovers from Hurricane Nate.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission said on its website that coastal casinos were allowed to re-open as of 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Closures were ordered Saturday as Nate approached.

The storm hit the coast with surges of up to 10 feet, and some casinos reported ground level flooding.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday. By midday Sunday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami had downgraded Nate to a tropical depression.

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12:30 p.m.

Officials are assessing storm damage to the manmade beach that lines much of Mississippi's coast.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said the process of cleaning sand and debris from beachfront U.S. 90 will take at least until Monday.

Officials say a storm surge of up to 10 feet was received near the Alabama state line.

Damage to about 25 structures has been reported so far in Mississippi, and electricity was slowly being restored.

The total number of customer without power fell to about 32,000 at 11 a.m. Sunday, from nearly 50,000 at the height of the storm.