I live in Alabama and I am one of the lucky ones that have access to the beaches of the Florida panhandle. My mother owns a house that sits about half a mile north of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. My normal summer routine is to take my family of four to the beach at least twice a month. So when the gulf oil spill first happened I was very concerned. I did not want the oil to effect my family’s summertime paradise. I remember being very angry at BP as well as our government about their inability to stop the leak in a timely manner. My family and I decided not to change our summer plans to the gulf until the oil spill forced our hand. The funny thing was that the oil never effected Santa Rosa Beach at all, at least not that we saw.
I know that so many beaches along the Gulf of Mexico have been effected. I have heard all of the oil spill nightmares. I just knew that the leaking gulf oil well was going to ruin our beach as well. Throughout the end of May and the beginning of June I noticed a lot of changes around Santa Rosa Beach due to the oil that we all knew was coming. There were a lot of contractors and volunteers walking up and down the beach looking for oil. I saw a lot of nets, and floats in the water and heavy equipment parked on the beach in preparation for an oil invasion that never came. Just a few miles down the coast at Pensacola Beach, the oil did hit the beach, but the clean up was so fast you hardly even knew it happened.
As Independence Day passed along with the month of July, I began to see fewer and fewer oil spill contractors and volunteers on the beach. My frustration with BP for not capping the oil well was finally put to rest when they stopped the oil from gushing. And the first weekend in August I noticed that the heavy equipment on the beach was gone. I know there is still oil out there, but it did not seem to effect Santa Rosa Beach at all.
A big part of my life is centered around the Gulf of Mexico, so the dangers of the oil spill have been on my mind from day one. I prepared myself for a disaster that never really effected the Florida beaches at all. The gulf oil spill definitely hurt the fishing and shrimp industry in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The effects of the oil spill on the beaches and wildlife of these states was irreversible. For that I feel very bad because I know it will be a while before things are back to normal. I just think of all the people who live in those areas and how their beach paradise was ruined by the oil leak. I am glad that BP capped the oil well because I am sure that the Florida beaches would have been next. As for me and my family, and Santa Rosa Beach, we consider ourselves lucky that the oil spill never really hit us that hard.
Looking forward I hope that more safety precautions are put in place to stop any more oil leaks and spills from happening on the Gulf of Mexico. The beaches of the gulf are too valuable to our economy, wildlife, and pleasure to be destroyed by a man made oil leak that can be prevented.