Gulf Coast Recovery Issue Update: An Eye-Witness Report from the Gulf

Where I can, I try to report on the positive things happening in the Gulf. But after my last update, I got a little wakeup call from Galactic guitarist Jeff Raines. He wrote in an e-mail…

Hey Whitney,

That all sounds great but in reality oil continues to wash ashore around Venice almost everyday. I happened to run into a excharter boat Captain last night who now is working for BP and he painted a gloomy picture of how things are looking down there. He said under no circumstances would he himself eat any seafood coming out of the gulf right now especially from the areas south of Louisiana. He said the tide comes up and when it recedes all the marine life like hermit crabs and the like are dead. There seems to be this perception that the oil has magically disappeared while in reality that is simply not the case.

Jeff Raines

I thank Jeff for his enlightening candor, and I welcome this sort of feedback from any reader. If you have observations of your own or come upon any interesting articles or videos on the Web, please send them my way at [email protected].

Jeff’s email also points to the fact that recovery in the Gulf is a slow process obscured by corporate, media and government spin. Here are some recent developments that – together – paint a picture of a region slowly overcoming great obstacles.

  • In an effort to increase good spirits around the region, another concert series has been planned as a follow-up to this past summer’s musical festivities. This winter, Orange Beach, Ala. will host a series of gospel concerts with groups from around the nation.
  • As the investigation continues in search for the cause of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, NPR and ABC’s Dateline took a submarine journey to the sea floor in the immediate vicinity of blown well. Their reports paint a picture of a lifeless sea floor covered in a slick of oil. As the NRDC summed up on their blog, “Dead coral looked like it had a frosting of petro-slime.” A lovely image indeed.
  • If you don’t have immediate access to a submarine and are still confused about the state of the Gulf, and especially the health of the seafood coming from it, you are not alone. Many people have differing opinions on particular issue. While the U.S. Armed Forces are being urged to consume as much seafood as possible, people who live in the region are urging just the opposite. Fishermen are also questioning the safety of the seafood from the Gulf and the future health of their families and business.
  • Gulf Coast representatives have been making waves in Washington. The Oil Spill Response Bill, currently before the Senate, is meant to hold BP fully accountable for all losses related to the spill while also urging increased focus on clean energy and an overall reform of offshore drilling safeguards. However, the change in control of the House of Representatives could pose challenges for getting this bill passed.
  • Major online search engine Yahoo! revealed that the most searched story in 2010 was the Gulf Coast oil spill.  It’s good to know that folks gave more attention to the oil spill than to celebrities, who dominate the rest of the Top 10 list.

Just to leave you with some Holiday cheer, I’ll close with this… In a touching story published just after Thanksgiving, a family separated during Katrina re-united after five years. Just about to give up hope, community leaders in Detroit helped lead Jeremiah Thomas back to his mother and grandmother. The never-give-up mentality of the Gulf region has never been better exemplified.