Friday, December 24, 2010

East Houms's Famous Christmas Light Show of 200,000 lights

East Houma house awash with lights
Emily Schwarze/Staff    Buy photo
Earl and Julie McElroy pose in front of their home, which won first place in The Courier and Daily Comet’s holiday lights photo contest, Monday in Houma.

HOUMA — It started as a partnership between husband and wife nearly 30 years ago. Today, the home of Earl and Julie McElroy is known for coming alive with 200,000 lights each Christmas, delighting neighborhood kids and parents alike.

Their house at 142 Cleveland St., awash with multicolored lights on nearly every square inch of the walls, roof and yard, was voted by readers as the first-place winner of The Courier’s holiday lights contest.

Earl McElroy, 70, a native of Ashland and an operations manager for Gulf States Engineering in Houma, puts up the display each year. He often stands outside dressed as Santa to complement the display, greeting those who come by. But for him, the famous light show is about much more than glitz and glamor.

“It’s really not about the lights. It’s about the people,” McElroy said. “They just enjoy themselves.” Read Full Story           

By Kathrine Schmidt/Staff Writer

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Houma Bids Historic Church Farewell

Parishioners say goodbye to St. Matthew's 
Photo by: Jessica Wolff/Correspondent  Buy photo
The Rev. Craig Dalferes and his congregation gather for a prayer service Wednesday morning before demolition begins at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church.

HOUMA — As the construction equipment started knocking down the back of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Wednesday, Dana Davis began to cry.

“Everything wonderful and everything sad happened here,” Davis said. Davis, like the rest of the church parishioners at the site, were there to take one last look at the building. St. Matthew's was destroyed in the early hours of Nov. 11 by a fire.

The Rev. Craig Dalferes led the group in a prayer, sprinkling the site with holy water. “We are here to honor the closing of one chapter and the opening of a new one,” Dalferes said. READ FULL STORY                                              
By: Eric Heisig /Staff Writer

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal says,..."Oil-impact study may take 20 yrs"

Oil-impact study may take 20 years

But states plan to request money from BP in advance for several recovery projects.

Photo by: Emily Schwarze/Staff 
A brown pelican rests on a pier near the Louisiana Universities
Marine Consortium facility Saturday in Cocodrie. Buy Photo

By: Nikki Buskey Staff Writer -

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Before Katrina, Before the Oil Spill

In this post I share a few photos of my Bayou Country world. All photos taken before Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike (yes they all hit where I live). This beautiful place is just not the same and never will be again.

The disappearing marshes and the devastating effect of the oil spill means drastic changes for many. It meant serious changes for me.

Long Horns Grazing

Lone Horns Grazing in the Oil and Gas Fields
Green Beauty

Lazy Days on the Bayou.

Sunset at Port Fourchon Beach

Sunset at Port Fourchon Beach before Rita destroyed it and Ike finished the job.
Back then you could drive on the beach, park next to the water and camp under the stars. I miss those days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bird's Eye View of Barataria Bay Wetlands

Aerial View of Barataria Bay Area

GULF COAST - Drew Wheelan, ABA Conservation Coordinator, tags along with the Lower Mississippi River and Achafalaya Basin Keepers for a fly over of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Barataria Bay region of coastal Louisiana. South Wings Aviation provided the flight that gave Drew the opportunity to document a "bird's eye view" of the marsh islands that many species of wildlife call home.

Video recorded on day seventy-four of "The Disaster in the Gulf", just after Hurricane Alex passed through the region. The flight goes over several colonies of birds, including Pelicans, Gulls, Herons and Terns that are being hit hard by the oil and mother nature.

PLEASE NOTE: There was a heavy haze that day but Drew's determination carried him through. Thanks Drew for your dedication to help protect our precious wetlands.

Posted on YOUTUBE by AmericanBirding

Monday, July 12, 2010

Smallest victims of the oil spill face an uncertain future.

A baby Kemp's ridley sea turtle, an endangered species, receives care from veterinary technicians after being rescued from oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The turtles are cleaned and rehabilitated at the Audubon Center for the Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans.
Associated Press Writer

FORT JACKSON — The smallest victims are the biggest challenge for crews rescuing birds fouled with oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill.
There's no way to know how many chicks have been killed by the oil, or starved because their parents were rescued or died struggling in a slick.
"There are plenty of oiled babies out there," said Rebecca Dmytryk of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, one of the groups working to clean oiled animals.
The lucky ones end up in a cleaning center at Fort Jackson, a pre-Civil War historic site on the Mississippi River delta south of New Orleans.
Pelican chicks often come in cold because oil has matted down the fluffy down that's meant to keep them warm. They must be warmed quickly just to survive long enough to be cleaned. And the youngest must be taught to eat.
"They only know their parents regurgitating food into their mouths. They don't know how to pick stuff up," said Dmytryk, whose organization is working with Tri-State Bird Rescue, a company hired by BP to coordinate animal rescue and cleaning in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
That means tube feeding three times a day. Others, a bit older and accustomed to taking fish from a parent's throat, must be hand-fed until they can eat fish from a bowl.
Adults can be checked a few times a day, but babies needed two staffers' full-time attention to be sure they are eating and are warm.
Many adults and juvenile pelicans get coated with heavy oil diving for fish. That doesn't happen with the chicks, though they may wade into oily puddles or get smeared by oil from their parents' feathers.
In general, rescuers don't go into nesting colonies, said Mike Carloss, a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist. He said most rescued chicks were near shorelines or were on nests so low that oil washed onto them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Louisiana Fisherman: "They are using us like laboratory rats."


Grand Isle - Dean Blanchard owns and operates Dean Blanchard Seafood, inc in Grand Isle, La. Dean is very concerned for the health of all gulf coast residents. He talks about BPs continued use of Corexit 9500 even though there is no evidence that it is safe.

Dean reveals in this video a few of the underhanded methods BP is using to cover up their half hearted attempt to clean up the spill. His frustration is clear and his hope for a future in the business he loves died when the Corexit laced blacktide rolled in.

A Project Gulf Impact Film

Posted on YOUTUBE by ProjectGulfImpact

Shot and Edited: Gavin Garrison and Heather Rally
Interviewer: Matt Smith

Friday, July 9, 2010

Marine Toxicologist Warns Chemicals Could Contaminate Air

Chemicals could contaminate air


Marine Toxicologist, Dr. Riki Ott urges
residents of the Gulf Coast impacted by
the oil spill to develop at "Plan B."

GULF COAST - It's been 21 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and while many of the financial claims still have yet to be laid to rest, many of the clean-up workers who were exposed to toxic chemicals in 1989, have been.

And with more and more Gulf clean-up workers complaining of headaches, sore throats and nausea, Dr. Riki Ott, marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor, is getting an unwanted wave of déjà vu.

"We got hard hats instead of respirators, just like you," Dr. Ott recalled. "The material safety data sheet for this oil, it says it's a respiratory irritant. It's all concentrated right where the slick hits the surface, so anything that is on that seawater interface is at risk, like dolphins, sea turtles and the workers in their boats trying to respond to this without respirators."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gulf Oysters Replaced By Rhode Island Calamari

A worker displays a fresh gulf oyster at P&J Oyster Co. in New Orleans Thursday, June 10, 2010. Work is coming to a halt at the 134-year-old establishment after oyster beds were closed because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Audra D.S. Burch
McClatchy Newspapers

NEW ORLEANS — Celebrity Chef Frank Brigtsen coated the squid in a perfect blend of seasoned cornmeal then dropped the batch into a vat of oil at Charlie's Seafood, a beloved neighborhood joint.

After a lifetime in Louisiana, 38 years as an architect of Creole cuisine inspired by the gifts of the Gulf of Mexico, this was one of the first times he had served diners fried calamari.

Before BP oil's endless flow threatened the supply and upped price of fish and shellfish by up to 30 percent, a hankering for southern fried seafood at this 60-year-old landmark would have yielded a heaping plate of crispy Louisiana oysters.

"'Charlie's is a place that celebrates Louisiana seafood and here I am frying calamari from Rhode Island," says Brigtsen, an award-winning chef who also owns his eponymously named contemporary Creole cuisine restaurant uptown. "I feel like somehow I am betraying my customers by not giving them oysters. I feel like I am wearing someone else's clothes." READ COMPLETE STORY

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Louisiana's Gov Jindal to Allow Concealed Guns in Church

Concealed Guns in Church

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal has agreed to allow concealed handguns inside Louisiana's churches.
Churches, synagogues and mosques choosing to allow concealed carry will have to inform their congregations of the decision. Anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon in a church will have to take an extra eight hours of tactical training each year.
Jindal signed the bill by Republican Rep. Henry Burns today. The new law does not apply to churches on school property.  READ COMPLETE STORY 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Louisiana Workforce Commission: Fishermen Job Loss Statistics Unclear

Rodney Pellegrin works in Dulac, La.
to attach two sections of  shrimp nets. 
Pellegrin said he’s frustrated by how 
the fishing waters are opened and 
closed so often.

By Kathrine Schmidt 
HOUMA — Following the auto industry implosion of 2008, Detroit’s unemployment rate stands at nearly 30 percent.
But when it comes to sizing up the lost wages and jobs from BP’s catastrophic oil spill to boat captains, deckhands and charter captains in Louisiana, numbers showing the impact on Houma-Thibodaux are much harder to come by.
That’s because many are self-employed and work seasonally, meaning their jobs and income are not tracked by state labor statistics. The state’s Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board doesn’t keep track of that information either, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission did not respond to a request about how they planned to track the job losses. ReadComplete Story            

Democracy Now Video "Day 74, Voices From a Devastated Community in the Gulf" "

Democracy NOW! Revisits Grand Isle, 
a community devastated by the oil spill.

Day 74 - Democracy Now reporting from the Gulf Coast giving a face to the tragedy now known as the worst oil spill in US history.  Amy Goodman, "On this this holiday weekend with families across the country celebrating July 4th, our thoughts are in Louisiana, where we broadcast several weeks ago."  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fishing Boats Outside Barrier Islands Busy Soaking Up Oil

Even though this article refers to "SHRIMPERS" this is an Oyster Boat!

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek W. Richburg/ U.S.Coast Guard
Workers use improvised mops made of bamboo poles and absorbent pads to clean up oil in the marsh grass Saturday in Terrebonne Bay.

John DeSantis
Senior Staff Writer
COCODRIE — For the first full day in a week, crews on land and at sea scouted for and cleaned up oil Saturday, making what they said appeared to be solid progress against the Gulf spill in Terrebonne and Lafourche.
“They are heroes,” Lafourche Parish government spokesman Brennan Matherne said of the shrimp boats, which operated around Timbalier Bay and adjacent waters. “I am hearing more and more how impressed the Coast Guard is with our fishermen and their efforts. Had it not been for their hard work and tremendous effort, we would have had much more of an impact.”
Terrebonne Parish, ground crews worked on barrier islands, where large swaths of medium-to-light consistency sheen left its mark on the beaches.
No large patches of oil such as those seen earlier in the week were spotted heading into the barrier island passes.
“There was a big crew working on Timbalier Island today,” said Terrebonne Parish Public Safety Director Ralph Mitchell. READ MORE

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grand Terre, Only Accessible by Boat, No Protection and Large Deposits of Oil


Grand Terre Island, just a 1/4 mile from Grand Isle, and only accessible by boat, had virtually no protection and large deposits of oil could be seen around its shores. Storms and windy conditions happen in an instant and pushes boom up on the shores rendering them useless. 

Photo by Lars Gange Published in Lafourche Gazette

Holiday Weekend No Holiday for Island Community

Lisa Owens of Raceland and her son Brad look off the pier Friday at Grand Isle State Park. Lisa has been visiting Grand Isle often since she was a child. “It's sad,” she said, referring to oil hitting the beach. “I just worry about the poor animals.”

John DeSantis
Senior Staff Writer
July 3, 2010

GRAND ISLE — There will be fireworks and parties, like every Fourth of July, on this island where the essence of existence is having a good time no matter what trials may come.

But Grand Isle's legendary joie de vivre, like the marsh plants along its storm-tossed passes, are soaked heavy with the oil from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon disaster.

While residents try to keep up appearances, the makeup is wearing a bit thin.

During the last holiday weekend, Memorial Day, the excitement of a presidential visit was enough of a sideshow to eclipse the specter of oil fouling cherished beaches. A dogged determination to have fun dictated that even if the annual trout-fishing rodeo was canceled, there would be dancing and drinking despite it all. The beach may be closed, but creative signs and dioramas of protest took the edge off. READ COMPLETE STORYY

Emma Chighizola has owned Blue Water Souvenirs for 24 years and says business has never been this slow during the summer, even after Hurricane Katrina.
Buy photo

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cleanup Halted as Spill Moves North of Terrebonne Parish's Barrier Islands

Matt Stamey/Staff
Capt. Dinh Pham (left) and deckhand Johnny Tran of Venice work Wednesday to install a generator on their vessel docked at Bouquet Seafood in Chauvin. The boat was working to clean up oil but was forced to dock because of weather.

Oil patches move north of barrier islands

John DeSantis
Senior Staff Writer

Thursday, July 1, 2010

COCODRIE – Small patches of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill began moving north of Terrebonne Parish's barrier islands Wednesday, a day when cleanup efforts were sidelined by heavy seas and winds related to Hurricane Alex, which was close to making landfall on the Texas-Mexico border. READ FULL STORY

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Florida Legal Team Hears Complaints About BP Claims

Florida counties and cities in the path of the Gulf oil spill have not the slightest idea at this point how they could be impacted economically.

Little wonder. Even the state tax collection agency is at a loss, trying to calculate the costs involved in an ever-changing, ever-moving, ever-growing target.

Attorney General Bill McCollum and former attorneys general Bob Butterworth and Jim Smith sought information Tuesday that the state will need to create a process for recouping its losses. The team is gathering information should it seek litigation against BP, which it has not decided to do. The three hoped to come out of the meeting with recommendations about how to refine the claims process.

“We don’t know how long this is going to take,” McCollum told the press before the meeting. “We don’t know the severity of it at the end of the day. What we do know is, we need a process.”

The 26 Florida counties affected need more money and information about the actions the state is taking in compensation for losses from BP, Ginger Delegal, general counsel for the Florida Association of Counties, told the legal team. The claims process has been confusing and lengthy, she said.

Counties have needed to compensate for a change in the claims process that requires them to submit claims directly to BP, instead of submitting them to the state. Two counties have submitted claims this way so far, Delegal said. The change was precipitated by Louisiana parishes that wanted to deal directly with the company. Right now, the counties don’t know if this way works, Delegal said.

Butterworth said state litigation against BP “may be very, very likely,” but the state needs be careful not to get caught in a lengthy legal battle that produces no results.

Smith cautioned claimants not to rush to file lawsuits, as heavy litigation “would get BP to stop working with us.”


Dolphins in a dying Gulf - Greenpeace USA

Greenpeace's team on the Gulf Coast has been taking independent scientists, media teams, and local grassroots organizations out into Barataria Bay, one of the areas hardest hit by the oil disaster, to help assess the full scope of this tragedy and the true cost of our reliance on fossil fuels.

Every day we have been out on the water here, we have been joined by dozens of dolphins, sometimes playing in the distance and sometimes swimming right alongside the Greenpeace boats.
Read Complete Story of - Dolphins in a dying Gulf - Greenpeace USA Blog

Anadarko says BP Acted Recklessley & Unsafely & Should Pay

June 19 (Bloomberg) --Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the Texas oil company that owns 25 percent of the damaged well pouring crude into the Gulf of Mexico, said BP Plc, the project’s operator, should pay the costs from the spill because it acted recklessly and unsafely at the drilling site.

PHOTO: Jim Hackett, CEO of Anadarko

"BP didn’t monitor or react to warning signs as the Macondo well was drilled", Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett said yesterday in a statement. BP is responsible for damages under such conditions, Anadarko said.

“BP’s behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct and thus affect the obligations of the parties under the operating agreement,” Hackett said in the statement.

BP said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees” with Anadarko’s position. Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said his company expects other parties that may have responsibility for costs and liabilities to meet their obligations.

“These allegations will neither distract the company’s focus on stopping the leak nor alter our commitment to restore the Gulf Coast,” Hayward said in yesterday’s statement. Read complete story at

Friday, June 18, 2010

State Police Bully & Harass Reporter Demanding BP CEASE using Corexit

AmericanBirding — June 18, 2010 — As a BP trained volunteer, Drew recognized serious safety issues involving the use of the dispersant Corexit in association with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. With unforeseen consequences due to lack of testing, it is incumbent upon BP to halt all use of this product due to unforeseeable worst case scenarios. While filming and after, State Police, at BP's behest bully and harass Drew.

Clean Up Crews Drive Over Least Tern Nests With ATV's

Day 58, Gulf Oil Spill Clean Up Crews Destroy Least Tern Nests

AmericanBirding — June 17, 2010 — On Day 58 of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, clean up crews on Grand Isle beach in Louisiana drive over sensitive Least Tern nests with ATV's that had been marked for protection by state biologists.

Canada: No jail time for attempted arrest of war criminal George Bush

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark supports Mohawk Splitting the Sky in attempted citizen's arrest
of war criminal George Bush in Canada

Splitting the Sky comments on his trial verdict from ICTV Victoria on Vimeo.

Global Research, June 10, 2010 -Court Case in Canada Anti-Bush Protester Handed Fine, One-Year Probation

CALGARY — A Chase, B.C., man will not go to jail after being convicted of obstructing a peace officer while protesting former U.S. president George W. Bush's visit to Calgary last year.

Provincial court Judge Manfred Delong handed a conditional discharge Monday to John Pasquale Boncore, 58, and placed him on probation for a year.

Boncore — who also goes by the name of Splitting the Sky — must make a $1,000 donation to a charity of his choice and pay a $50 victim fine surcharge as conditions of his probation.

.......Boncore told the judge before sentencing that if being fined $1,000 "for trying to apprehend a war criminal of the Bush administration, and possibly stop torture and murder," then "bring it on." read more

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unheard Voices From The Front Lines Of The Oilpocalypse

The fishing community of Dulac, Louisiana has faced many natural disasters in the past, but the oil spill is a man made preventable disaster. The residents feel used and are concerned their way of live will be destroyed by the careless actions of "Big Oil".

"In Shell Beach, the president's promises don't mean much"

St. Bernard residents search for answers at expo after BP fund announcement

CHALMETTE, La. -- Reaction to President Barack Obama's latest efforts to ease the pain along Louisiana's coast remains mixed, all while concerned residents go searching for their own answers.

Read more

Barataria Basin dubbed 'The Black Sea' THANKS BP!

Thick patch of oil discovered in Barataria Basin dubbed 'The Black Sea'

BARATARIA BASIN, La. -- Barataria Basin fisherman are now calling this thick patch of BP oil in Bay Jimmy, "The Black Sea."

The fumes are overwhelming and the sludge is toxic to the fragile marshes between Grand Isle and Lower Lafitte, south of New Orleans.

Tuesday, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents discovered dead fish floating in the oil.

The fish were later identified as gulf menhaden, also know as pogey fish along the Louisiana coast.

"If you found dead fish, that's not good at all," said Lafitte fisherman Lindberg Santini.

Sanitini has fished these waters for the past 39 years. He said seeing the smaller fish die can only mean one thing for his livelihood on the water.

"Nobody really knows how long it's going to last," said Sanitini. "I don't think I'll be back fishing no more at my age."READ COMPLETE STORY

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What's Really Happening In Grand Isle Louisiana - You Won't Believe This!!!

Water Supply Safety Concerns Residents Of Lafourche Parish

BP engineer called doomed rig a 'nightmare well'

BP engineer called doomed rig a 'nightmare well'

The Associated Press/File
The Deepwater Horizon oil platform leans before sinking April 21 into the Gulf of Mexico.

The comment by BP engineer Brian Morel came in an e-mail April 14, six days before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 people and has sent tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf in the nation's worst environmental disaster.

The e-mail was among dozens of internal documents released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the explosion and its aftermath.

In a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., noted at least five questionable decisions BP made in the days leading up to the explosion.

Associated Press Writer

Monday, June 14, 2010

THE BUFFALO POST - Gulf Coast Indian tribes – among those hit hardest by BP oil disaster – face aid crisis, too


Gulf Coast Indian tribes – among those hit hardest by BP oil disaster – face aid crisis too

As if an oil spill of historic proportions, one that threatens to end their entire way of life, weren’t bad enough, now comes this news from an Indian Country Today story by Rob Capriccioso that some of the tribes along the Gulf Coast may be ineligible for federal aid:

    The Houma Nation is one of several tribes facing an uphill battle. Most tribal citizens in immediate danger are members of state recognized tribes; there are 10 in Louisiana, and four federally recognized ones.

    Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior, explained that as of June 2, federally recognized tribes seemed to be free of oil complications. She said the agency has received “no reports that federally recognized tribal natural resources are impacted by the spill.” She added that Interior has reached out to all federally recognized tribes in the region, including those from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

    Shin Inouye, a spokesman for the White House, said tribal leaders have been receiving updates from the White House, and have been invited to participate in update calls with government officials.

    State tribes, meanwhile, have been left more to their own devices, with some even trying to work with BP itself to lend a hand.

The BP disaster represents “a dark day for our people,” Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, principal chief of the United Houma Nation,tells Capriccioso. “We’re being hurt economically, environmentally and culturally. … It’s a total assault on who we are, our way of being.”

The 17,000 Houma peole are recognized by the state, and live a mostly subsistence lifestyle – one that they worry will be destroyed for years to come.

“It’s sort of a love/hate relationship we have with the oil companies, as many of our members rely on them for work, but they also see the impact the companies have had on the area over the years. This latest spill makes that impact all the more difficult,” Dardar-Robichaux says.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that oil companies once petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs against recognition of the tribe,

Dardar-Robichaux says.

By Gwen Florio

Sea-Go Seafood in Houma, is flying flag upside down these days

Oil leaves bayou communities in distress

Buy photo
Sibling crabbers Carla Ghere (from left), Carolyn Tillman, Johnathan Tillman and Steven Tillman, 14, pose Saturday on Carla's boat, the “Family Tradition,” with Carolyn's sons Kaleb, 3, and Landon, 1, in Chauvin.
By Nikki Buskey Houma Courier
Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.

HOUMA: Arthur Eschete, owner of Sea-Go Seafood in Houma, is flying his flag upside down these days. On the open seas, he says, it's a traditional way to signal to passing vessels that you're in distress.

Like many others affected by the spill, Eschete can talk at length about his fears and stresses. There are worries grounded in everyday life, like how water closures linked to the Gulf oil spill affect his seafood business, finances and family.

But other things weigh on his mind too. He used to work in the oil-and-gas industry, and he fears what the ban will do to the local economy, and what a crippled economy will do to life on the bayou, where his family has lived for 250 years.

No one knows where we're at right now, and that's the scary thing, Eschete said. I'm 65 years old, and this is the first time in our lifetime that me and my wife have no idea what's going to be down the road in 2 to 3 years.

I try to look at what could happen to turn it around, but all you have to do is go on the Internet and look at those dead birds and dead dolphins, how can we just bounce back to where it doesn't devastate us for a decade? ... The future is very grim.

Just like oiled waters and marshes, the anger and fears caused by the spill have the potential to poison the mental health of the people affected. Family distress and drug and alcohol abuse could be some of the human symptoms of the spill.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals and Catholic Charities of Houma-Thibodaux have dispatched counselors to the Dulac and Larose community centers. And they have gone door to door in bayou communities to try and help locals cope with job loss, fear and depression.

We've had community meetings where grown men have cried, said Sharon Gauthe, director of BISCO, a local, church-based nonprofit.

Bayou communities are used to dealing with disasters after many years of flooding and hurricanes, said Dr. Anthony Speier, assistant deputy secretary of the state Office of Mental Health. But they may be struggling with more anger and hopelessness than they can handle amid the Gulf oil spill, with some scientists projecting that the waters and marshes that support local fishermen could be affected for years.

The difference between a hurricane and this oil spill is that after a hurricane, the damage is assessed and you can pick yourself back up and start rebuilding, said Kim Chauvin, co-owner of the Mariah Jade Shrimp Co. in Chauvin. You can get yourself help, get loans and neighbors help out neighbors.

Here, there's such uncertainty there is no planning for tomorrow.

But during a technological disaster, what this oil spill is considered, survivors know your fellow man did this to you, Speier said, and they're overtaken with anger and loss.

Fishermen know BP spilled the oil that has stopped their work, Chauvin said, and now they have to go to BP to get employment cleaning up the mess or file claims to try and pay their bills in a frustrating process.

Commercial fishermen are living stressed right now, Chauvin said. The shock is still settling in, but we're only looking at the tip of the iceberg. You're going to have a world of hurting people down here.



Speier said the crisis in the Gulf shares similarities with 1989's Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound. Both hit rural fishing communities hard.

It creates another level of anxiety for people who live off the land, Speier said.


There are no easy answers, and with the ambiguity comes anxiety. And anxiety, unabated, can turn into depression and hopelessness.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oil spill hardships forcing owners to give away pets

by Bigad Shaban / Eyewitness News
Posted on June 9, 2010 at 10:24 PM

BELLE CHASSE, La. -- The trickle-down effect of the oil spill can now be felt inside animal shelters along coastal parishes. Unemployed fisherman are struggling to support both their families and their pets, leaving many with no choice but to try and give away their animals.

Inside the back room of the Plaquemines Parish Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.) shelter, you can hear a whimpering from Dexter. The puppy is one of more than 40 dogs caged inside the facility. While none have a drop of oil on them, they are still very much suffering because of it.

Their rescue shelter is packed, every cage filled. And the waiting list for people trying to drop off their pets here is now 20 percent longer than normal.

The reason, according to shelter director Jacob Stroman, has everything to with the growing mess in the Gulf.

Out-of-work fisherman, Stroman said, are finding it harder to care for their families and their pets READ COMPLETE STORY

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Market Fears - Gulf oil spill will put BP into bankruptcy

Stocks fall on fears the Gulf oil

spill will put BP into bankruptcy

The stock market had another late-day slide, this time because offears that the Gulf oil spill will send BP into bankruptcy court.

Aerial Photos of Oil in the Gulf Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oil from the BP Gulf oil spill stains an inlet on the northeast side of Barataria Bay.

The Dow Jones industrials, up more than 125 points at midday, closeddown 41. Most selling came in the last hour, the third time in fourdays that stocks had a late-day drop.

Investors got a "sell" signal from a news report that quoted ananalyst as saying BP could be forced to seek bankruptcy protection inabout a month because of the oil spill. Analysts also said there wereconcerns that the company might have trouble paying its dividend.


Oil Spill touches Native American congregation in Dulac, Louisiana

Wildlife officers prepare to net an oiled pelican in Barataria Bay, La.

The Rev. Kirby Verret is working all sides of the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster that threatens both his small Louisiana church and his community.

He is trying to tend to his 178-member Native American United Methodist congregation at Clanton Chapel in Dulac, offering support to families and people who fish for a living.

Clanton Chapel United Methodist Church in Dulac, La., is surrounded by water following Hurricane Gustav in 2008. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.

And he is negotiating with British Petroleum, which wants access to the large, centralized sewer system – built after Hurricane Juan in 1985 – on the church’s property and space to house cleanup teams on church grounds.

June 8 marked the 50th day since a BP-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and setting the stage for what is feared will be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

The spewing oil has yet to be contained. During a White House press briefing a day earlier, Admiral Thad Allen noted that the nature of the spill has changed. “We’re no longer dealing with a large, monolithic spill; we’re dealing with an aggregation of hundreds or thousands of patches of oil that are going a lot of different directions,” he said.

In Dulac, Clanton Chapel is affected by the oil spill. “Our church is mostly fishermen,” Verret explained. “Most are unemployed. Some have gotten work with BP.” 

An oiled pelican is washed at the Clean Gulf Associates Mobile Wildlife Rehabilitation Station in Plaquemines Parish, La.
read more

2:00 P.M. EST June 9, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gulf oil spill: Birds in Barataria Bay hit hard

a dead bird, believed to be an egret, and, a small snake coated in oil on East Grand Terre Island, La. Credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times

latimesblogs...greenspace original post on June 6, 2010 | 5:35 pm pm
By Julie Cart, New Orleans

Members of a three-man team from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology traveled from Grand Isle, La., by boat to the outer islands of Barataria Bay to film the effects the oil is having on the bird population. They arrived on... Click to read more

Birds frozen in oil: image of a desperate summer

AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey

Oiled pelicans rescued a day earlier from Grand Terre Island and other barrier islands near Grand Isle huddle Friday in a pen at a rescue center near Fort Jackson. Once their condition has stabilized, they will be washed, allowed to dry in a heated room and then moved to outdoor pens with pools. The pelicans were among at least 66 brought to the center Thursday and Friday, and more were expected.

They are the ghastly images of a summer fouled before it started. Squawking seagulls and majestic brown pelicans coated in oil. Click to read more.... from SETH BORENSTEIN
AP Science Writer

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oil's insidious impact on Ecuador's culture and biodiversity

  • Wildlife

  • By Daniel Grossman

    Quito, Ecuador--For anybody who needed convincing, the Deepwater Horizon accident has proven that tapping the Earth for oil can be hazardous for workers and the environment. But oil wells harm the people and wildlife around them even when no pipes break and no fluids leak.

    tapir-photo-3.jpgSouth American tapirs, such as this one, are among more than 47 species of animals for sale at the market in Pompeya, Ecuador.

    Photo by Daniel Grossman

    On a reporting trip last month to Ecuador, I got a glimpse of such insidious damage.
    There, in the town of Pompeya, on the edge of Ecuador¹s Amazonian rainforest, I saw rare wildlife dead, and stone-age indigenous cultures shattered.

    Few Ecuadorans know that far removed from population centers like Quito, oil drilling causes such impacts. But even if they knew, and even if they considered the price steep,
    the South American nation would find changing course difficult. Ecuador¹s second largest export, oil, greases the country¹s financial gears; and by its nature oil extraction disrupts vast swaths of land, along with the people and creatures that live there.

    Full story on the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting website>>

    Seafood processors face tough choices


    Allen Estay, owner of Bluewater Shrimp in Dulac, stands by empty shrimp baskets Tuesday at his usually bustling shrimp dock. Estay says his business has slowed to about 10 percent of its usual volume this time of year.

    HOUMA — They're making decisions one day at a time.
    Click to read full story

    Conservatives seek oil spill solutions from federal government

    Ben Brooks, a lawyer and Republican state senator from coastal Alabama, says he's no fan of big government but he expects an aggressive federal response as a gunky oil spill threatens the Gulf of Mexico.

    "There's nothing inherently contradictory in saying we believe in smaller government and demanding that the government protect public safety," Brooks said.

    All along the Gulf Coast, where the tea party thrives and "socialism" is a common description for any government program, conservatives who usually denounce federal activism suddenly are clamoring for it.

    Take Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican elected in 2007 when Democrat Kathleen Blanco opted not to seek re-election after she was widely panned for a bumbling response to Hurricane Katrina two years earlier.

    Since April 20, when a gulf rig exploded and blew out an underwater oil well about 50 miles south of Louisiana, Jindal has been a constant presence in the fishing communities and barrier islands along his state's fragile coastline. He's been out on boats and up in Black Hawk helicopters, doors open, to survey the spreading, rust-colored swath of crude.

    bobby_jindal_oil_grand_isle.JPGGov. Bobby Jindal looks at oil that got past booms on May 21 as he tours a land bridge built by the Louisiana National Guard to hold back oil in Grand Isle.Jindal, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, has demanded a stronger response from the Obama administration, accusing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of dragging its feet in approving Louisiana's plans for protective berms -- a plan that took three weeks to approve.

    "This oil threatens not only our coast and our wetlands, this oil fundamentally threatens our way of life in southeastern Louisiana," Jindal said last week.

    Jindal is a fiscal conservative who made headlines last year by rejecting some federal stimulus money, then distributing other stimulus funds by handing out oversized cardboard checks to local officials.

    Louisiana State University political science professor Kirby Goidel said Jindal's call for larger federal involvement in the oil spill management contradicts the governor's usual persona.

    "He's governor largely because of Katrina," Goidel said. "He knows that it's important to get out on top of it and be clear if the federal government is not doing what it's supposed to do. It's important for people to know that."

    Goidel said he's not surprised small-government conservatives would seek help from Washington in a disaster that threatens the Gulf's water quality and everything that depends on it, from the shrimping industry to tourism.

    "I think it's a pretty predictable response: 'We've got a problem that's beyond our control. Get the federal government in here to take control,'" Goidel said.

    Haley BarbourMississippi Gov. Haley Barbour talks with officials from United States Environmental and BP as he gets off a helicopter following a tour of the oil slick nearing the Mississippi coast in Gulfport, Miss., April 30.

    'Fisherman who fell ill during oil spill clean-up alleges BP tried to cover-up evidence.'

    From original post on Jun 1st, 2010 at 2:45 pm
    By Amanda Terkel

    Last week, the LA Times reported that local fishermen hired by BP to clean up the Gulf Coast spill had “become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant.” Especially galling was the fact that one of the fishermen said that the company hadn’t provided them with any protective equipment, like gloves. Now, John Wunstell, Jr., one of the fishermen who became sick with “nosebleeds, an upset stomach, and aches,” is filing a restraining order against BP, citing the treatment he faced from the company after he went to the hospital:

    “At West Jefferson, there were tents set up outside the hospital, where I was stripped of my clothing, washed with water and several showers, before I was allowed into the hospital,” Wunstell said. “When I asked for my clothing, I was told that BP had confiscated all of my clothing and it would not be returned.”

    The restraining order requests that BP refrain from “altering, testing or destroying clothing or any other evidence or potential evidence” when workers become ill.

    BP CEO Tony Hayward has tried to downplay the sicknesses, attributing them to food poisoning. However, Dr. Michael Osterholm, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, has said that Hayward’s explanation sounds fishy, explaining that the fishermens’ symptoms are more in line with a respiratory illness. On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on BP to provide treatment for clean-up workers who become sick. (HT: scorpiorising at DailyKos)

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    BP oil spill -- a timeline of disaster - From Greenpeace USA Blog

    On April 20, 2010, a BP offshore oil rig exploded, killing workers on the rig and spilling tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well, located 5,000 feet below the ocean's surface, is now leaking between 5,000 – 60,000 barrels (210, 000 – 2,520,000 gallons) of crude oil into Gulf Coast waters each day, with devastating consequences for Gulf Coast communities and the fragile wetlands, bayous, and coastal waters on which they depend.

    Click to view GreenPeace timeline


    Photo by: Kari Huus /

    Antoine "Whitney" Dardar, a Houma tribal elder, has been fishing and trapping in the bayou near Golden Meadow, La., for his whole life.

    LA FOURCHE PARISH, La. -- The native Houma people, who have long relied on fishing and trapping in the marshlands of Louisiana, have been through a lot as a tribe.

    They have been robbed of their lands, subjected to segregation, witnessed the steady erosion of marshlands and been displaced by hurricanes. Now, some fear the oil slick that threatens to invade the bayou could be the final blow to their culture and traditions.

    “We still could make a living here,” says tribal elder Antoine “Whitney” Dardar, 74. “But now, with the oil coming, I don’t know.”

    The tribe, which has about 17,000 members, has lived off the marsh for hundreds of years, and until recently many members made their living entirely off of marsh resources—moving from one harvest to another, season by season.

    Kari Huus /
    Lifelong fisherman and trapper Aubrey Chaisson Jr., a Houma tribal member, had to pick up other work after his fishing boats were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He has watched the steady loss of marsh throughout his lifetime, and advised his own son to get out of the business.
    “In May there was shrimping, then we would start crabbing, we caught redfish in the summer, white shrimp in August, and then trapped nutria in the fall and sold the pelts,” says Aubrey Chaisson Jr., who is in his 50s.

    The Houma Indians survived this way after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, when the U.S. government took control of the region from the French. Unlike French and Spanish colonists before them, the Americans rejected the Houma tribe's property claims, says tribal historian Michael Dardar, who is the nephew of Antoine. The Houma people were eventually forced out of their permanent villages to the north in Bayou Cane, and moved into this area deep in the marshes, where they traditionally had seasonal fishing villages.

    “They ignored us and hoped we would wither away,” Dardar says.

    In the 1920s and 30s, after oil was discovered in the marsh area, the Houma Indians suffered another land grab, according to Dardar.

    “The Houma were mostly illiterate, and spoke only the Houma-French language,” he says. “A lot of people came in and (acquired) their property through a variety of methods.”

    Many Houma people signed documents they were told were leases by the oil interests and others, but the papers turned out to be quit-claim deeds, Dardar says. Later, hundreds of the documents held by the parishes mysteriously disappeared.

    “We have no tribal lands,” says Laura Billiot, a member of the tribal council that represents more than half the Houmas, who are concentrated in La Fourche Parish and neighboring Terrebonne Parish. “The oil companies and the politicians took our lands a long time ago.”

    It is difficult for the Houma Indians to do battle with either oil companies or the government because they are not a federally recognized tribe, though they have tribal status with the state of Louisiana. They lost a bid to gain federal status 20 years ago, in part because of opposition from other tribes. In addition, Dardar says, oil companies petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs against recognition of the Houma tribe.

    Paradoxically, as commercial fishermen have had a harder time making money because of foreign competition, high fuel prices and erosion of the marsh caused by oil companies, many -- including Houma tribe members -- have turned to the oil companies to supplement their incomes. And most will say they don’t oppose drilling, but wish there was more oversight of the oil industry.

    Kari Huus /
    Tommy Verdin, a fisherman and Houma tribe member, was just recovering from losses sustained during Hurricane Katrina when the oil spill occurred. Verdin stands in front of his 60-foot trawler, Cherish, on Grand Isle, which is idled by the suspension of fishing.
    “It’s a tragedy what they have done here. They have made a mess of my heritage,” says Tommy Verdin, who runs a large shrimp trawler.

    But when Verdin came back to Grand Isle after Hurricane Katrina and found his home reduced to a slab and his boat badly damaged, he got his captain’s license to run oil supply boats.

    “I had my back against the wall,” he says.

    Aubrey James Chaisson, 36, says his father advised him when he was growing up that he should not go into the fishing business. So the younger Chaisson piloted boats for the oil companies for a while before becoming the Grand Isle fire chief. But he says he misses the life he knew as a kid.

    “I feel I’ve been robbed,” says the father of four. “You can’t raise your kids as native Americans anymore.”

    One pocket of Houma Indian families is famously clinging to their traditional lifestyle on tiny Isle de Jean Charles in Terrebonne Parish, but their situation is becoming increasingly dire. Where there were 100 Houma families living prior to the recent string of hurricanes—Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike—there are now only about 20, says historian Dardar.

    Some of the others would like to return, but they face obstacles that include the cost of replacing destroyed homes with stronger, higher structures on land that is rapidly eroding and sinking. In addition, the road to the island remains damaged and is regularly submerged during high tide. The parish government says it doesn’t have the funds to repair it.

    Add to those challenges the threat of oil.

    “The tribe is at a crossroads,” says Kirk Cheramie, program director for a Houma radio station who also acts as spokesman for the tribe. “We are tied to the land, the resources, the fish, the crab and shrimp… Not only that, but it’s where our families are buried. It’s our identity.”

    Posted: By Kari Huus,

    Battle against drifting oil expected to last months, if not years


    For those saddened by the scenes of thick oil washing into Louisiana’s coastal wetlands a month after the BP oil disaster began, experts on oil spills and the coastal ecosystem have some advice: Get used to it.Click to READ MORE