Hurricane vs Oil Spill, part 1 of 2

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April 25, 2011 by David Gillaspie

Gulf Shores, Alabama

A hurricane has no corporate sponsor.  No one thought of BP after Katrina.

Who thought of Katrina after the oil spill?

A waiter in a busy restaurant delivered a pound of crawfish and tall pile of fried seafood to a small table near the kitchen.

“Which would make you pack up and leave New Orleans, the hurricane or the BP oil spill?” a diner asked.

“Leave New Orleans?  Nothing.  Neither.  I’m never leaving.  And I got nothing to say about the folks who moved to Baton Rouge or Houston.”

“Did a lot leave and not come back?”

“Yes, sir.  How they did that isn’t something I know how to do.  This is the only place I’ll ever live.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.”

He wasn’t married.  No kids.  Parents live out of state.  He wasn’t afraid for anyone. 

Does that change?

A long, black, tour bus stopped in the middle of the street near the Voodoo store.  The driver rushed into the voodoo business and back out.

“You show people around?  Which had the most effect on visitors, the hurricane or the BP oil spill?” a man asked.

“Which one?  Listen, people will always come to New Orleans.  There’s no place like it in the world.  Sometimes more people, sometimes less, but they’ll always come down here,” the driver said.

“Then which one hit you hardest?”

“You mean money?  I’ve lost more on the BP oil spill.  Way more.  Katrina went easy on the French Quarter, we didn’t get the water you hear about in other places.”

“Does BP listen to you?”

“I’m not sure what they hear.  I’ve filed claims for lost income.  People who come here eat and drink.  If they’re afraid of the seafood, they don’t eat.  What happens to an eating place when people are afraid to eat the food?  They don’t come.  Makes sense, right?  I’ve got the right papers and documentation of income for three years and BP isn’t working with me yet.”

“Do you expect them to?”

“Eventually.  See, if a hurricane and a flood and an oil spill come together it’ll be a different picture.  I’m just taking one step at a time.  People see the French Quarter from my bus and think it’s all good now, and so does BP.”

A vendor in the French Market arranged the tiles he sells on a table.

“Did the hurricane hit the market hard?” a customer asked.

The vendor pointed toward the Mississippi River.

“We’re built in what I’d call a bowl,” he said.  “From the river to Lake Pontchartrain the land dips.  My house was under ten feet of water.  In the last six years, I’ve lived there three weeks.  I ain’t leaving, see, but I want to make it right.  Government money allows me to raise my house four feet above the flood plain.  Since my slab sits three below, I’ll be a foot above, so next time I’ll only be under six feet of water.”

“Which is worse, the hurricane or the BP oil spill?”

“We get hurricanes.  We know what’s up with that.  The flooding with Katrina wasn’t about the hurricane when the levees broke.  It was more about bad building.  The water didn’t come over the top, it came under, then through.  The BP oil is worse because it scares people.  A hurricane you can see, an oil spill is covered up, and that’s what BP is dong now.”

“Which are they better doing, making things right after the oil spill, or covering up?”

“After a year, it’s starting to look like they’re trying to put it all to bed early.”

By David Gillaspie

see part 2

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