Day Two-Gulf Coast Roadtrip

I first of all have to say a HUGE thank you for everyone that’s been following along. I’ve gotten such great comments via the blog, but especially Twitter. If I could put all of you in my backpack and travel around with you then I would, because the support and encouragement has been overwhelming. Now on to Day Two, the first full day at the Gulf Coast in Alabama.

My day got started doing a couple of interviews. The first was with a grassroots organization along the Gulf that with the help of Jimmy Buffett, had built and rigged three boats for helping with wildlife rescue. They were going to put them in the water at strategically placed locations along the Gulf. Well, the U.S. Wildlife Association found out and said that’s a no no. With the sensitivity of the animals and without properly trained participants, the grassroots organization wasn’t allowed to take their boats out. However, the U.S. Wildlife Association did say they could lend the boats to them and have their professional trained staff use the boats in rescue efforts. Jimbo and his crew were happy to do this. As he put it, “we aren’t pointing fingers, we just want to lend a hand”.

Jimbo was quick to say that this is unlike any crisis the gulf has ever faced. Unlike disasters such as Katrina, they happen over a relatively short period of time and residents can pick up their lives and start moving on. The oil crisis has been happening since April and although there are comments that it could be capped by August, that is only an estimate, as it could in fact stretch on much longer. There are many uncertainties that face the Gulf Coast’s present and future and this raises concerns among everyone.

Judging from many of the looks of it, there doesn’t seem to be blatant things that stick out when driving around the Gulf to make it seem like life is that much different. It’s often small, unrecognizable things like light traffic heading to the beaches, small crowds at shopping malls and few boats on the road. It was after I got to the beach that I really noticed the impact. I started off at the marina, which was a graveyard. The only people there were a group of boat owners who were sitting around looking out at the marina while drinking beer. This might sound like a funny scene, but for boat owners and fishers, this sums up how many of them feel. For many people, there’s nothing they can do, but sit and watch. However, the highlight of my day was seeing a couple dolphins playing and swimming just yards from the dock. I only hope that is the case weeks and months from now.

My final stop was at Orange Beach. I was amazed. I was the only non-government car that parked in the public beach access parking lot on one of the busiest vacation days of the year. It wasn’t completely empty, as there were people walking down the beach and some people laying in the sun, but during most summer weekends you would have a hard time vying for a spot on Orange Beach. I noticed many people coming down to the beach just to get photos of the emptiness and see the scene for themselves. There was one couple who had their vacation planned for months and were taking pictures just so they could say they were at the beach, but were disgusted at the situation. Red flags were up, so the public wasn’t allowed to get in the water. Although there have been reports of oil residue and tar balls, I didn’t see any.

**I’ll add more pictures and video later on. Continue to follow along here and on Twitter at #gulfa.

Photo from Infrogmation on Flickr.