“A Sea of Unknowns”

The gulf oil spill clean up continues in marshland (credit: Elizabeth Shogren/NPR)

Kim and David Chauvin, shrimpers from Louisiana, were enlisted a year ago by BP to help clean up from the nation’s worst oil spill in history.  Fisherfolk by trade, the Chauvins and many of their neighbors traded in their nets and chains for absorbent boom to collect oil spilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig.  And yet, BP still has not paid the Chauvins for their losses last year or for the damages to their fleet in the cleanup over the last year:

It’s a scary thing when you’re looking at your future and you don’t have a clue and you don’t have a grasp on it,” she says. “You’re walking in blind, and you’re about to spend money that you don’t have in a way of continuing on with the business, because this is what we’ve done all our lives.”

But the Chauvins and their neighbors still have hope for this new shrimping season; priests blessed a parade of boats just a few weeks ago, as they do at the start of every new shrimping season.  “We need to stand up where our heritage is and really give something for our kids to look forward to,” Kim Chauvin says.

Oil oozes to the surface of a marshland in coastal Louisiana (credit: Elizabeth Shogren/NPR)

While there is some hope that the seafood and wildlife populations will rebound, some scientists are not so sure how ecosystems will recover.  Marshland along the coast, among other areas, has been monitored by biologists and scientists like Scott Zengel.  Though Zengel knows that marshes are often best left to recover and restore themselves, he calls his restoration a “mad science experiment:”

First, manual crews started using the technique. Now heavy machines are mimicking the method — a massive long-arm excavator pulls a makeshift rake across the marsh.

About a third of the 436 miles of Louisiana coastal wetlands hit with BP oil still show some visible signs. But less than 10 miles has enough oil to warrant such an aggressive cleanup, and in many once-oily stretches of marsh, green plants now are sprouting.

So many people, businesses and communities are still scraping by in the Gulf Coast and trying to recover, frustrated by the lack of financial support and promises of aid left unfulfilled.  How will YOU reduce your dependence on oil and vote for a cleaner, brighter future?


3 thoughts on ““A Sea of Unknowns”

  1. It is still so sad down here in Louisiana. I recently took a trip to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for an Emergency Operations meeting on disaster evacuation plans. I put my toes in the Gulf for two minutes and ended up with an allergic reaction! The beaches are so beautiful and Mississippi..and the people of Southern Louisiana have lost their heritage and livelihoods.

  2. I heard one family last night speak of the loss of their adult son who worked on the drilling station. Their grandson was born shortly after the death of their son. They said it best when they shared “Everything has changed and nothing has changed in this past year.” So sad for all the families involved.

  3. Laura: I have been reading so many stories about fishing communities and families in coastal communities with health issues and a loss of financial stability. So sad that we forget so quickly about our neighbors if we are not directly impacted, but we ARE! Keep up the wonderful support of NOLA!

    Maura/MRo: When are you headed down to NOLA with me? Let’s send our prayers and love until we get down there 🙂

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