A mess…what else would you call it?


First published June 12, 2010

    With life in the bayou country still feeling the strain from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and another hurricane season upon us, an oil spill was the last thought on anyone’s mind, but here we are.

     With mandated hurricane flood insurance premiums rising at a rate unforeseen, many residents in the southern part of the parish have lost their homes, not because they could not afford the mortgage payments, but due to the insurance payments rivaling the monthly mortgage note. With the oil spill invading the shores and an already sagging economy and precarious livelihood, more devastation is headed our way.

     One of the largest tax-paying companies in South Lafourche has already lost millions due to the oil spill. Layoffs are on the horizon, not only for this company but other taxpaying companies as well. With the parish currently hurting from a slowing economy, we will no doubt be seeing more people lose their jobs and homes.

     This disaster was further exasperated by BP and the Core of Engineers sitting on their hands after the Deepwater Horizon well blew in April of 2010. They wanted to “survey” instead of doing what made the most sense and that is, hiring the people indigenous to the area who do know how to protect themselves from disasters. These people would have gone into action mode and the infiltration of so much oil into our marshes and wetlands might not be so great.

      Our governor lost the opportunity to augment his popularity with his constituents when he failed to step up and authorize deficit spending instead of waiting around for British Petroleum or the federal government to fork over the needed funds to protect our coastline. Precious time was lost and the oil penetrated the shoreline of South Louisiana.

     The opposition against the current six-month moratorium instituted by President Obama has been criticized by people not directly affected or supported by the oil industry as South Louisiana is. Until the United States decides to look for and adapt alternative power sources we are dependent, as a country, on oil. Instituting a cessation on deepwater drilling may, in the long run, be even more devastating by causing additional dependency upon foreign oil.

     A deep Cajun heritage is also at stake. Underneath the illiterate and strange melodic dialect, lie self-educated men, who have been born and bred on the bayou. While formal education held little importance in the life of a trapper and fisherman, their learning was taught by the ebbing tide and the full moon, the hot blistery days and the frigid cold nights, the wind and the rain; their signature a mere “X” on the line but no less important than a name written in long hand. It is a unique education that life has presented to them. The oil spill will bring yet another lesson.

     The current status of the gulf oil spill, however, has had a snowball, ripple in the water effect. An economy still reeling from hurricane devastation is now contending with an oil spill of tremendous magnitude. Not only have the fishermen been affected but the net shops, ice houses, seafood sheds, fuel stations, restaurants, and the list goes on. This event will reshape our region as the hurricanes have continually reshaped our terrain. South Louisiana is a fishing industry and the effects will be determined only by time and Mother Nature. Our livelihoods are dying. Our way of life is dying. Our wildlife is dying. Our tourism, industry, and wildlife must co-exist. One depends upon the other’s success.


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