Security on Alert at Florida Casino in Hurricane's Path

Looters already spotted near Jai-Alai casino, guards on alert to prevent theft


''Oh, oh, the lights are starting to go out; we're feeling it,'' said the security guard on the telephone from the Jai-alai fronton in Fort Pierce, Fla., which was expected to feel the brunt of Hurricane Jeanne. ``This phone will probably go dead.''

Jonathan Garate and other employees were getting ready for a long night of protecting the closed fronton, just west of downtown Fort Pierce.

During Hurricane Frances, some 50 people -- workers and their relatives -- took refuge in the sturdy old building, but things did not go well and on Saturday only employees were present.

''The building is made of reinforced concrete and can stand the winds, but the last time water started accumulating on the ceiling and coming down the light fixtures,'' Garate said of France's damage.

In a panic, the storm refugees had to run to a secure area. ``It was a little scary.''

And that wasn't all.

Looters were spotted casing the place. Garate and other guards scared them away.

''It's gonna be a long night,'' Garate said.