Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gulf Coast Road Trip: Louisiana

After Mississippi we headed to Port Sulfur Louisiana where we stayed in a building run by Mennonite Relief Services. On our way to Port Sulfur we stopped through New Orleans and ran into a women named Sherry who is the manager of a local bar as well as a lawyer. She has grown up in New Orleans and spoke to us about the denial associated with the oil spill. She talked about how the people in New Orleans are stubborn and will deny there is a problem until they can't anymore. She said that the younger generations will most likely move away and the older generations, who are attached to the New Orleans way of life, will stay. Above all, she said people will not give up their sea food.

When we stayed in Port Sulfur, we drove further south to a bar in Venice where we ran into a man named Todd who is a commercial fisherman in the area. Todd told us that not many locals are being hired by BP to look for oil. He also told us stories about his friends who quit school in the 7th and 8th grades just to become fishermen, and how they can no longer fish. One very interesting thing Todd told us was the reason the cap for the oil broke. He told us that it shattered because it froze and all that needed to be done was for methanol to be pumped down with the cap to prevent it from freezing.

After we went to the bar in Venice, we headed to Joshua's Marina where we ran into oil-field workers. A worker named Kevin has been the captain of his own boat for 6 years and is currently employed by the energy company, working on cleaning up the oil spill. He told us about how they are currently using the "Kevin Costner solution" which is a device that separates the oil from the water.

While we were staying in Port Sulfur we had the opportunity to be brought out on the Gulf by a local Vietnamese fisherman. We experienced dolphins swimming only feet from the boat and pelicans flying over us. It was beautiful and heart breaking at the same time. We had recently been informed of dolphins showing up dead on local beaches due to coming up for air and being suffocated by the oil.

After being in Port Sulfur, we visited Cut Off Louisiana where I attempted to find information on the Houma Indian I am named after, Marie Melodie Dupre. We couldn't find any information on her, even after calling all the baptist churches in the area and all the Dupres in the phone book, so we continued down to Grand Isle where we heard the oil spill was the worse.

We were told by local people back in Mississippi that booms do not work very well because waves can go over them and the oil with it. There were huge booms all along the beach at Grand Isle. They separated the "hot" zone from the rest of the beach. You couldn't see the oil in the water, but it was there. The dispersal that has been released in the gulf to break up the oil, makes it so that the oil does not float on the top but it is dispersed throughout the water. This process seems to do more harm than good because the dispersed oil sinks to the bottom and is no longer able to be collected.

We had an amazing experience along the Gulf, made some lifelong friends and lifelong memories.

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