Thursday, June 10, 2010
Getting to Grand Isle
This is really the crux of the matter. We arrived at the Grand Isle Town Hall today and are already scrambling to record everything we heard. Apparently just last winter a lot of money went into fixing up Wesley Island and it is now closed. This fact is announced by a large piece of plywood slapped out by LA 1 that has "BEACH CLOSED" spray painted in big sloppy letters across the front. On the way here we passed a number of signs that stood as reminders of the ongoing oil crisis:
"Don's Fresh Fish" is covered by a sign that says "closed by BP"
"We Love You BP" -We weren't sure if this was ironic or a show of solidarity: remember that many people who work in southern Louisiana are employed by the oil industry
"Fresh Shrimp -Closed: Thanks BP"
"On-Site Disaster Relief Catering" (with a phone number below)- already adventitious businesses are popping up, but then again they have had 61 days to mobilize!
This sign is one of the first that you see when you get on the Island. One of the women we met at the Town Hall told us that if they get bad hurricanes this year on top of the oil disaster that it will be a clear indication that God does not want them on the island. Her husband is 60 and has been a shrimper all his life. This winter they put a lot of money into his boat and now that investment is useless. She does not know what they are going to do. They cannot even sell the boat because no one will buy it.
I have not seen the oil yet, but Mister Chris is planning on bringing us for a tour this afternoon. There are a lot of areas that he (essentially the city manager) isn't even allowed to go. He told us that he goes anyway. As soon we got on the bridge from Cheniere Caminada to Grand Isle we were hit by the smell of the oil. There was a layer of scum along the beach and there were several long booms up near the base of the bridge. Mister Chris tells us that the oil is a few miles offshore right now, but that the way the weather is shaping up it should be back on the beaches in a couple of days. He says that the beaches are clear now on the surface, but if you dig down you can see layers of oil and sand. But BP will just show you pictures of the surface. He is furious.