Sunday, May 02, 2010

Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Awaiting Our Fate From The Angry Seas

There were no famous celebrities, nor national news present, nor was a TV telethon planned. Just a gathering of a community who cared to make their voices heard. They were brought together, not through screaming protests, but from the little voice of an 8 year old girl named Porsche Prince, a student at Pensacola Beach Elementary who had a strong desire to make a difference.

Porsche has been surfing since she was three, and upon hearing of the encroaching oil spill upon the snow white sands of the Gulf of Mexico which threaten the very ecosystem that depends on its fragile balance, she felt compelled to do something.

She enlisted the help of her mother, Jennifer Prince, to bring our community together in support of Pensacola Beach, even though no one was quite sure what to expect in the coming days ahead. There was no mass media coverage of the event; only a little article in the local Gulf Breeze newspaper to announce the event.

We approached the beach and were first greeted by red and purple flags which signaled dangerous surf and marine life. Upon reaching the shore, there were angry and raging waves that seemed to voice their hostility over the poison that lied deep within it's watery belly and its' inablity to regurgitate it with every wave they hammered upon the vulnerable white sand. The sky was hazy and white, and a thick blanket of fog that had been present since late in the afternoon, laid thick in the air all around us. The wind blew harried bits of sand in our faces as I walked around clicking photog moments around me.

All of nature seemed to be reacting to the same panic we all felt as we waited for more news of where the oil spill would be headed next.

The local news media did show up with a handful of cameras to document the occasion, and a healthy group of people of maybe 100 or so were there to attend as well. There were no protests signs or loud speakerphones yelling crude obscenities towards BP, Transocean, Haliburton, or even the government itself. No one selling t-shirts blazened with the words "Boycott Oil Drilling" either.

All that could be found among the local residents of this area was a quiet mingling of families and retirees, children playing in the sand, , people meditating at the water's edge, frisbees flying, and a colorful collection of kites snapping in the wind over our heads. A local cover band emotionally belted out tunes from the 60's as if to invite the feeling of what a protest would be like if we were in another time and place.

The gathering began with a trio of presenters who thanked Porsche Prince for thinking BIG enough to bring us together for this brief period of time, a Reverend who asked for prayers during our wait and watch moments, and a local representative who encouraged each of us to help when we could and to suggest where we could go and ask "What can I do to help?".

Loud applause followed when he said "We need to save our communities."

What people around the country don't really know is that this oil spill reaches far beyond saving our pristine beaches. This oil spill will seep into every thing people in the Gulf Coast areas hold valuable; their way of life.

A woman on CNN recently emailed a comment regarding "Should we still drill for oil in the Gulf?". She stated that "The spill is a risk we have to take, but yes, we should still drill." Much like a lot of other people, I didn't really contemplate this until the "risk" happened to my own area. It amazes me how we can spend more time and money on protecting and preserving the Hope Diamond than we do on one of the most valuable gifts God entrusted us with: Earth.

She, and people like her who don't live here have no clue what this will do not only the the fragile ecosystem here, but to the very life that people live. It was reported recently that if/when the oil creeps onto the oyster beds, it will take these beds two decades to recover.

This means that for 20 years, the people whose very house payments, food on the table, clothes on their kids back, depend on the harvesting of these oysters, will end as they know it because of the "risks" of having a oil rig explode and dump millions of toxic pollutants into the waters that will inevitably poison the very oysters that this woman probably eats from time to time.

The next time she, and others like her, are sitting back and downing their Oyster Rockefellers with their Top Shelf Martinis, I hope they remember that the very families that harvested those oysters their sliding down their arrogant throats are now out of a job for the 20 years!

Shrimpers and Oystermen are already filing lawsuits, but it will be a long time coming before they see the money. We all know how big corporate lawyers drag this stuff out; there's no difference here. What will happen to these people until the suits are settled is the real issue to discuss at the current time.

Meanwhile, you will be paying a lot more for that grouper you so love. Or how about that shrimp scampi you like to whip up for dinner. Hope you have a real fat wallet cause if you think Red Lobster was expensive before; you ain't see nothing yet!
We haven't gotten to the discussion yet on how this is going to affect your gas tank this summer.

It doesn't just hurt us.... you're gonna pay for it too in the long run.

We Floridians are constantly complaining about tourists. It's the same way of life as is making the bulk of the money we will live on through the "cold" season when the tourist aren't here. We're schizoid about this sometimes.

As I write this, there is a constant stream of tourist pushing back and/or canceling vacation reservations thanks to BP and it's historic oil spill which is expected to eclipse the Exxon Valdez spill.

Let me repeat myself here: these businesses desperately rely on the revenues they make during the summer season to get them through the winter months. In other words, if the tourist don't come, bills to not get paid, shops/stores close up, people have to leave.

People do not understand what kind of economic impact this has on our area. We are still trying to dig out from Hurricane Ivan, Katrina, and Gustav. Yes, this recovery goes back that far. Add to that the recent Great Recession the country has been going through, and one can understand why this place is barely.... I say barely hanging on by a thread economically.

Let's give a small example here: Pensacola has one of the worst school systems in Florida, has become a haven to Katrina refugees which can't support them because there are no jobs worth having here, it has the worst water in the nation, and business' are closing left and right. If you want to see a clearer picture from the voices of the people themselves, then take a look at the Mason-Dixon survey that took place on July 22 - 27, 2009. It's not pretty, and this oil spill is gonna paint an even uglier picture when it's done.

But this is just one area of the Gulf. There are many more towns and cities that this will affect down the road. If the oil spill hits the Gulf stream currents, then it will continue outlining the entire Gulf side of Florida right down to the Florida Keys where they predict it will have devastating affects.

Remember, BP doesn't expect to have a handle on capping the oil leak for up to 90 days!

This is not like something that will just disappear when people are tired of hearing it on the news or talking about it. For those of us who live on the Gulf Coast, this will affect our children's children, and the very lives that depend on the Gulf in order to make a living.

Any for anyone like the likes of Rush Limbaugh who blame "environmentalist wackos" on the massive oil during the annual Earth Day celebration; well..... I lump them all in the same douche bag category that I put this arrogant, fat, pompous ass into!

So those of us who live and work on the Gulf Coast sit patiently by and wait to see what the torrent waters we have now will bring in during the coming week. Some have already seen their fishing careers come to an abrupt halt as a result of the "sweet crude" sludge filtering through the deeper waters off the coast. We're talking about a $2.4 billion industry in this region folks.

Booms are going up, but the waves are so violent and high due to the weather that the oil will inevitably spill over into the wetlands and the shores they were suppose to protect.

As State of Emergencies are declared in the states outlining the Gulf Coast waters, we can only.....

"Wait baby...... wait."

BTW, you celebrities in Hollywood can go ahead and start planning that National TV Telethon on behalf of the destruction of the Gulf Coast. We are all going to need it!

If you wish to help, please contact the following:

• Escambia County - BRACE, United Way, and First Call Volunteer help - Call 1-850-595-5905 between 8 a.m., and 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m., to 5 p.m., on Sunday to register to volunteer.

• Santa Rosa County - Help Thy Neighbors - 1-850-983-5223

• The BP Community Support Team has set up a hotline for those who would like to help: 866-448-5816;

• The National Wildlife Federation is working with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and is encouraging anyone in the southern Louisiana area looking to help to reach out through its website;

• The International Bird Rescue and Research Center has sent a team of specialists to the region to help with any oiled wildlife. If you spot oiled wildlife, call the Wildlife Reporting Hotline at 866-557-1401. Please note that oiled birds (or any other oiled wildlife) should not be captured, but reported to the hotline;

• The National Audubon Society is recruiting volunteers to be trained to respond to the oil spill. They are also encouraging members of the public to contact the Interior Department and encourage them to halt the expansion of offshore oil drilling in the eastern United States;

• Alabama residents are asked to contact the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program at 251-431-6409;

• Or contact the Mobile Baykeeper at 251- 433-4229 to volunteer anywhere along the Gulf Coast;

Save Our Seabirds is a Florida bird rescue group that is looking for volunteers as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. To help, call 941-388-3010; is also needing volunteers to assist with the cleanup.

• Reporting an injured or oiled wildlife: 1-866-557-1401


Gondooo said...

Seems to me we need to be putting some serious effort into finding an alternative source of energy. If its not spills such as this then its wars over it.
From what I understand, the effects from the Valdez incident is till causing problems, and how long ago was that! God help the Gulf Coast and all those living there.

Draft Queen said...

This is SUCH a tragedy.


We are just watching and waiting down here. Even if it doesn't come ashore, there is a whole area in the Gulf now that will be "unfishable" due to all the oil sitting there right now. If it keeps spreading towards the beaches, it'll take the tourist industry with it as well. One way or another, we are going to get affected by this. The Gulf Coast just can not handle this economically.

Anonymous said...

Can one person make a difference? Yes, one can!

This was a fascinating article worthy of more than just Google blogdom. :)

Going back to read it again.


Kathy said...

Well, it keeps spreading towards the beaches, it'll take the tourist industry with it as well. One way or another, we are going to get affected by this. The Gulf Coast just can not handle this economically. thanx for sharing.