June 15th – 6:19PM
With helicopters constantly hovering over the shoreline, there is no doubt that something is happening here in Okaloosa County, Florida where thick carpets of oil have been reported only miles offshore.
In our discussions with local residents and business owners, we’ve heard many people vocalize their displeasure with the federal government’s general inaction and the hindering of their efforts by the bureaucracy involved at national, state, county, and local levels. Last night, Okaloosa County in western Florida decided to take a drastic step in order to protect their waters and shores. At an emergency town council meeting involving town and county officials, a unanimous vote decided to flaunt the chain of command (the U.S. Coast Guard, in particular) and implement the steps it found necessary to protect much of the county’s coastal community, including Destin Harbor and Choctawatchee Bay.
While state and county leaders around the region only verbalize their discontent with the federal response, Okaloosa County has taken a unique and bold stance in protecting itself. In addition to the use of booms, the county will implement an underwater device that pumps air to the surface, in hopes of creating a wall against the oil and sending it to the surface where weighted barges and booms will stop it. Whether or not these methods will prove to be effective is unforeseen, but there is no doubt that this county is taking the action that others have shied away from and they’ve done so because they see it as necessary and because BP nor the Unified Command has adequately responded. Rather, BP will wait until there is oil in Destin’s harbor and bay and on its beaches before employing any semblance of a significant response effort
Time and time again, recently in places like Mobile and Pensacola, we’ve seen a thorough lack of foresight plague the response efforts and one county in Florida isn’t willing to let that trend continue. It’s a bold move, for sure, and its outcome is unknown, but it’s pro-action like this that can hope to inspire others. The sad reality is it shouldn’t have to.
And so the area braces, doing all that it can while fearing an impact that may or may not come, one that it may or may not be able to stop. Certainly, the biggest fear is of the unknown, of which there appears to be plenty.