Lake Charles, La. — As a resident here for more than 20 years now, we have survived many natural disasters and come back strong every time. The BP Gulf Oil Spill is one disaster that we are all afraid could endanger our way of life forever. The residents of Calcasieu Parish are all answering the call of service and doing our best to quell the effects that the oil will have upon our shores. I wanted to highlight some of what our community is doing and hopefully inspire you to take part as well.
Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana — www.crcl.org
If you visit ww.crcl.org, you can register to volunteer for beach cleanup or donate to their cause. The organization has stepped up efforts in the past few months as part of an organized response to combat the Gulf oil spill. My family got word of a beach clean-up effort conducted at Holly Beach on the Cameron Parish coast of Louisiana. We responded in force and looked forward to the coming weekend adventure.
On June 5, about 300 volunteers gathered at the Bataria Street entrance to Holly Beach. The goal was to clean up our local beach of trash and seaweed before the oil arrived. Removing the debris would make cleanup easier. The work started about 8 a.m. and most of it was finished by noon.
GRIP and BP provided:
1. A canvas bag
2. 1 roll of very thick plastic leaf size bags
3. 2 bottles of water
4. 1 bottle of SPF 30 tanning lotion
5. 1 extra pair of cotton garden gloves
6. 1 Australian hat or fluorescent hat
The work was organized into teams as colored arm bands and releases were signed. There was a choice of shirts with several sizes available and either brown or white garden gloves. The teams were each given a talk of the purpose of the work and a safety check including an update of bird-nesting sites to avoid.
All of the contents of the canvas bags, the hats, shirts, gloves and a lunch were donated by BP. I don’t know if GRIP was able to provide any of the materials. Several rakes and ATVs with trailers were on-site to transport people and material to and from the sites. Most of the volunteers spread out and quickly began picking up man-made debris while the rakers began pulling the seaweed from the sea up about 50 feet to the road where it was stacked. About two miles of beach were cleaned in this manner. Above the road, only man-made debris was picked up. The seaweed was picked up and carried by the ATVs to high areas. By noon most of the work was finished and a lunch consisting of a sandwich, pasta salad, two cookies, a bag of chips and cold water was served. Canopies were set up to keep the meals out of the sun.
The workers had to be 21 years old and the “crew” ranged from there to seniors.
How Does a Citizen of Lake Charles View BP?
The oil industry has made its home in Louisiana for many decades now. We have developed a relationship with the oil companies that fosters economic growth and has also helped our youth get educational opportunities that would have never become available to our state. While the BP Gulf oil spill may be causing the American public to view the oil industry with a skeptical light, I want you to understand that the jobs these companies create are vital to the survival of our economy in Lake Charles.
Louisiana is one of the most productive and resource-rich areas in the country. We enjoy low unemployment numbers and have a wide variety of seafood that fills our supermarket shelves. I am sure that you have heard that the Gulf oil spill is going to affect our state for many years to come, but I wanted to outline the possible implications of this man-made disaster, first hand for you.
Risks Associated with the Gulf Oil Spill to Louisiana
1) Oil tainted waters of the Gulf will reduce fishery output and will flood our workforce with untrained fisherman.
2) Charter boat industry, which attracted many anglers looking to catch a Marlin, is now shut down indefinitely.
3) The moratorium or delay in offshore drilling is going to cause the machine shops and oil service industries of Louisiana to suffer in the state of Louisiana. Conservative economic estimates show that for every oil worker offshore, four are supporting that person onshore in the state of Louisiana. We are proud of our men and women who work on those rigs in Louisiana. They leave their families for weeks at a time to earn a living.
I wrote this without requesting payment. As an experienced writer, I realize that there is no need to conform to rules on this subject and wanted the freedom to expand my discussion to cover the full effects of the Gulf oil spill on my home state of Louisiana. The national media feel compelled to offer their own political views of offshore drilling, but I actually feel the industry is good for Louisiana if it is done in a responsible manner. When events like this literally hit your own back yard and you actually see an oil-covered wild animal, covering the story becomes a personal crusade. I hope you understand my wishes and let your friends or neighbors know about our heart breaking situation down here in Louisiana.
Lache pas la patate, Louisiana!