The Louisiana Lottery Corporation announced that it has reopened its New Orleans regional office, located in the Clearview Palms Shopping Center in Metairie, about five months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it.

Although the complex did not flood, extensive roof damage and subsequent rain caused irreparable damage to the entire contents of the 4,000-square-foot office. It was completely gutted and rebuilt.

We are still analyzing how best to phase in all of our operations there, but the first function resumed will be prize payment," said Kip Shuford, senior vice president, sales and marketing.

During the time the office was closed, greater New Orleans residents who won more than $600 were having to decide whether to make a trip to Baton Rouge to claim their prize or hold out to see if the office would reopen before the claim deadline for their particular prize. Lottery retailers are allowed to cash winning up to $600, but larger prizes must be claimed at a Lottery regional office.  Jackpot prizes and Powerball prizes over $510,00 must be claimed at Lottery headquarters in Baton Rouge.

"Many of our New Orleans customer service representatives and regional staff still do not have homes to go back to and may continue to service our retailers from the Baton Rouge location," said Shuford. "Our goal is to deliver to our New Orleans area players and retailers all the Lottery service and support they need."