Two Years and Eleven Crosses Later

You are probably not able to sit at your computer today and engage the internet without seeing something somewhere about the BP Gulf Oil Spill.  That’s mainly because today, Friday, April 20, 2012 is the second anniversary of the day that eleven lives were sacrificed in the name of Big Oil.  Along with that fact is breaking news that Judge Barbier has decided to move forward with settling the class-action lawsuits and giving businesses and individuals their due.

The abundance of internet coverage about the lawsuits, those negatively impacted, and the damaged eco-systems is mind boggling.  Look closely enough and you will read stories of shrimp without eyes, crabs without claws, and deformed fish being discovered somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.  Just exactly where in the Gulf of Mexico are these mutant sea creatures?  Therein lies part of the problem—the mixed messages coming from varying parts of the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf of Mexico is vast, and while the oil did not quite reach the immediate area of the Gulf here in South Central Louisiana where I make my living, the folks who read these stories have no clue the geography of these findings.  This type of reporting fuels the wrongful perception that our Louisiana seafood and fish are not safe to eat.  Thus continues the downward turn in our charter and recreational fishing and seafood industry.  This, at a time when we were hoping to be fully recovered from the physical affects of the oil.

While the debate over whether or not the oil still lingers continues, it is for certain that negative articles about just how much oil remains and just how badly the Cor-exit has harmed our marine life are causing continued negative impact on Gulf of Mexico industry and tourism.  One sector of society is screaming “Help!” because our marine life is suffering, while others scream just as loudly, “Welcome to our coast” because our doors are open for business, and we are begging for that business to return to pre-oil spill days.  Thus you have the two sides of this ongoing aftermath:  the economy and the environment.

Along the Gulf Coast, economy and environment go hand in hand—we cannot separate the two. The two sides of this disaster continue to chase each other around like hamsters on an exercise wheel.   Those who depend on the Gulf as a resource for income want to see the Gulf restored.  On the other hand, there is no need to sensationalize the problem to the point that the whole world believes that the entire coast is still covered in oil.  Such is just not truth.  What is the healthy coast to do?

Using BP compensation dollars, tourism along the Gulf Coast is advertising like never before.  Billboards, radio, TV, and internet ads show the Gulf Coast at its best, claiming the beaches are clean, the fish are biting, and the seafood is safer then ever.  But the question still remains:  Is it enough?  Will tourism ad dollars be enough to counteract all the negative publicity about baby dolphins washing up on the beach or saltwater fish being caught with growths on their scales?

Many businesses that are tourism or seafood based are still waiting for compensation for their loss of income due to the BP oil spill.  They are on the economic impact side of things. But that economy will not recover until the public is certain that the environment has recovered.  See?  Catch twenty-two.  The businesses and individuals who are still living this two years later just want to scream, “Compensate us for our losses already!”

But maybe Tony Hayward said it best, his words more prophetic then he knew,

“We just want our lives back.”

Is that too much to ask?

For eleven families, it is way too much to ask.  Their lives will never be the same after losing loved ones that tragic day when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.  Those of us left behind will continue to fight the good fight over environment and economy, but we will never be able to thank those eleven and all the others who have died providing petroleum to fuel this nation.  So for just a few moments, on this second anniversary, let us set aside our strivings for economic and environmental justice and offer a prayer of thanks for these folks and a prayer of peace for their families.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

11 Crosses, Grand Isle Beach, LA, bear the names of the eleven who lost their lives in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion. The water tower in the background bears the spray-painted words,

Post Script:  This article won an Excellence in Craft Award from the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association in August, 2012.  

If you would like to copy this photo and post in other places, please write author in the contact box at the bottom of any page on this blog to get my permission, and be sure and give photo credit where photo credit is due.

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  1. Well put m’dear…and a powerful photo.
    Ye know our hearts are with ye and all our mates!

    Here’s hoping we can all learn, move forward, preserve and grow the culture and ecosystem o’ Louisiana. For the waters, the sky, the earth, the fire in our spirits and all our relations.

  2. Not much more to say, is there? Let’s hope that when two more years have passed these issues will have been resolved, and life can be less difficult and stressful for everyone.

    Which reminds me – is the old house finally gone? One step at a time can sound so trite, but that’s how we have to deal with these things, no matter what kind of disaster befalls.

    1. Linda, the old place is on the list for a parish demolition program. I’m just waiting on them, and it can’t come too soon for me! Oh, and by the way, this photo is in the Houston Chronicle today, Business Section, Loren Steffy’s piece on the second anniversary. I’m looking online now to see if I can find it.

  3. Being a good distance away from Louisiana all I hear about the recovery is from the BP commercials on TV saying that the Gulf is open and doing business better than ever. It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years.

  4. Heard all kinds of 4-20 stories today up in the tundra (40 and dropping now). Not one on Loozy and BP.

    1. Guess it only figures that 420 is more important than what’s affecting our lives down here : )
      Maybe if well celebrated the day we wouldn’t care about all this other stuff.

  5. My favorite Dallas/Metroplex station (Fox4), did a piece on BP, the explosion, the lives lost, the devastating effect it took and is still taking on those who relied on the waters for their livelyhood and other factors caused by the explosion and spill. It was a good story and pulled no punches. I was glad to see it and know that there are those not on the gulf who still remember and care.

    They did state how much as been spent and how much more needs to be. I give them two thumbs up for the story.

    1. Cammy, do you know the name of the news report/anchor who did the piece? I have a friend who worked out of the FOX bureau and thought she might know them. It’s a good thing. I’m glad to hear it! Thanks, Cammy I am believing by faith, in spite of the spill this is going to be the camps best year yet!

      1. I searched thru the site but, couldn’t find it. I did see it though while I was having lunch. It showed film of the explosion/fire, oil spill washing up on the shores and being cleaned, etc. And a lot of other specifics. I have always had trouble finding items on their web page that was on the TV. Glad to hear that you will be having a good year. And to those who wonder if the seafood really is safe, it is!! I am far from the gulf but, I look for shrimp and other seafood that is marked on the package that it is from the gulf.

        1. No worries, Cammy. I was just curious. Most my friends have commented that the second anniversary was never even mentioned, so it’s a good thing your station covered it so thoroughly.

  6. Just got back from Grand Isle today. The water was clear, the beach at the State Park was clean (no oil/tar balls) and the “Hardheads” (saltwater catfish/trash fish) we’re biting! I must say, none of the Hardheads showed any deformities! (Quit laughing, BW!)

    On a serious note…

    1. I’m glad ya’ll got to go. And really glad you caught some fish without growths! Gross! I missed you by one day . . . I was there yesterday birding in the cheniere and then attended the reception for the art exhibit at the community center. Did y’all drop in there and see all the art work for this year’s contest? I had two pieces on the wall!!!!!

      1. No, I didn’t even know about the exhibit. What did you have on display?
        This was a very short trip (1 1/2 days) to visit with our friends from Pa. We almost cancelled altogether because of my dad’s health.

        1. Did you know your nephew was on the radio show with us Saturday morning, too? Our topic was the debate over the state going non-compliant with Federal red snapper regulations.