Day 3-Gulf Coast Road Trip

I quickly jumped out of my car with my camera thrown over my shoulder, HD camcorder in hand and collapsible tripod jutting out of my back pocket. I ran up the boardwalk, scooted up the two sets of stairs to the top of the sand dunes into the covered shelter for what awaited me. I’m not sure what I expected, but I wasn’t ready for this. Like those climatic, slow motion scenes from the movies, I slowly did a 360-degree, when the words came out: “What in the HELL is going on?”. Overhead coast guard helicopters flew over, groups of oil spill cleanup workers were coming back on shore in boats and dropping off their rubber gloves and masks, military hummers were coming and going on the road, large sand dunes lined the beach so that high tides and over wash wouldn’t make its way to the island’s national habitat and in the distance, oil rigs lined the horizon.

After day two at the Gulf Coast, I had reported that outer appearances suggested that life was going on as usual at the Gulf, but that you had to get beyond the surface to see that life actually wasn’t the same. Well this certainly wasn’t the case at Dauphin Island. This scene I described pretty well sums up my last day at the Gulf. I didn’t even mention the federal basecamp that was on the elementary school grounds on the other side of the public park. I came across several groups of locals and vacationers on the pier who wanted to see things for themselves. Many of them taking photos of the situation itself. One local couple I came across was in a heated argument about who was to blame for the oil spill and how they wanted their beach back.

There were some recreational boaters out on the water at Dauphin Island, but most of the boats were volunteer and work crews. Coming across the bridge onto the island, I saw the most instances of “boom” that I had seen. Boom is a long flotation device that helps contain and prevent oil from reaching the shore. Weeks ago it was highly celebrated as a leading alternative to stopping the oil from reaching the shore. However, it’s come under criticism and many claim that it has missed the mark and not reached expectations. With high winds and ocean currents it can sometimes be difficult to maintain and keep up with.

The best part of this day was probably what I didn’t see: oil residue and tar balls. I went to several different beaches and didn’t see any oil on the beach, although there continues to be reports of oil reaching some of the Gulf Coast shores. It gave hope to see fish jumping in the water, crabs scurrying along the sand and birds flying closely along the water. But will this last?

This concludes the summaries of my trip to the Gulf. You can see a full summary of my live tweets from the weekend here. I’ll be following up this post with a general post that sums up the weekend, as well as a separate post about how people can get involved.