Friday, June 11, 2010

Who is Here?

Let's start by pointing out who is NOT here. This is one of the docks behind Ricky's Motel, where we are staying. At this time of year these docks should be completely filled by sport fishing boats. The motel itself should be completely filled with tourists here to fish and enjoy the beaches and great weather. And, to be fair, the hotels in the area ARE full. In fact, it is challenging for people to find enough motel rooms. The problem is that the motels and rental cottages are full of oil spill workers and the media. And us. This presents a problem in itself: even if tourists did want to come, they would have nowhere to stay.
Today a BP representative said that there were 953 workers on the ground cleaning up the oil on Grand Isle and Elmer's Island. The locals are quite disgruntled about the workers, however. Last night Ginger and I went to a picnic that BP put on for the community over at Chigazola Park. When the BP rep opened up the floor for questions and concerns there were many that were upset by the source of workers. When I talked to a "security" official on the beach today he said that they were all hired by outside contractors, which sounds like a little sleight of hand on the part of BP. It turns out that a couple hundred of the people out on the beaches are in fact convicts from nearby prisons. whoops. The Grand Isle Chief of Police told me yesterday that he threatened to close the bridge to the island if BP didn't provide him with background information on every single worker they wanted to bring to the Grand Isle. He isn't alone in his concern. Many people at the picnic voiced their fears for the safety of their families and it is clear that the influx of strangers has changed the community dynamics on this island. Josie, at the tourist center, said that summer is usually a very exciting time for the residents and that it is fun to meet new people here to vacation. That is all gone now.
The Army and Coast Guard are both well represented on the island now. I have not gotten a chance to really interact with any soldiers yet, but a golf cart full of Coasties stopped us as we were walking the beach to remind us NOT to cross over the booms. Above is a picture of them kicking up sand as they race down the beach away from us.
There was nothing natural about this beach today. It has been planed smooth between the berm and the tiger booms. Equipment for the clean up workers has been plopped down at regularly spaced intervals: A porta-jon, a dumpster for debris, and a tent for workers to rest and for the "security" guys to hang out. All of the normal debris that should litter a beach, the "objet de la mer" as Jim says, has been raked up into a dotted line that extends as far as the eye can see. In the top of this picture you can see a helicopter. These were flying overhead the whole time we were on the beach. It turns out that several senators, congressmen, and people from DC were getting an aerial tour of the oil spill. A couple of hours later there was a press conference that we attended during which these people expressed their concern for the Gulf Coast. I will get that footage up shortly.

No comments:

Post a Comment