On Wednesday we went to Destin for another full day. In the morning we interviewed a local fisherman with a slightly different perspective than what we’ve seen. Although he, like most folks in Destin, is distraught about what’s going on and believes that the actions about to take place should have been planned weeks ago, he said one thing that stuck with me, accidents happen. He said that although BP had probably taken away the possibility for him to continue to make a living there, at least he can move on.
In the afternoon, we were lucky enough to be invited on a fishing boat by a well respected local captain, on what many thought would be the last day of fishing in Destin for some time. At this point, no visible oil had been seen in Destin, though it had been reported that a plume lay between Navarre and Destin that day. On the way back to port we noticed, in the distance, a disturbance in the water, possibly a wind lull, hopefully not oil. But these days Gulf Shores doesn’t get that lucky, and sure enough upon driving through, we confirmed it was an oil sheen several acres wide. While we continued back, we noticed more sheen-like a stain on the ocean-some containing noticeable tar balls. After arriving to port, we were invited to a small private meeting of fisherman, local business owners, and city council members. I felt lucky to see first-hand what the people who really care about this place are willing to do. At the same time from a legality standpoint everyone is a little afraid. At this point, what was said at Tuesday’s town meeting is being looked at as hollow statements just to get BP and the Coast Guard to get moving. But even so, not much seemed to be taking shape on their end. We drove home that evening sobered by the experience.
A streak of misinformation struck Destin on Thursday morning. Word that the pass had been closed left some Captains and businesses canceling their boat rentals and fishing trips, while others continued as normal, and sure enough were able to stay open for business leaving some in the dust. Although familiar word of sheen and tar balls spread, many Destin residents want to continue as long as possible before eventually working for BP. Some view it as inevitability, others…a duty.
After a town meeting on Thursdays where motions for continuing plans of barges, booms and air curtains were passed, the now BP workers continued to stall at the docks and on the water with seemingly no plan or direction, a lacking chain of command keeping potential help at bay.
(click picture for full view)
On Thursday we also met with a Destin resident who built a custom oil skimmer to be fitted to a pontoon boat. An answer to a call for help lost in confusion and chaos. He fears if using his device without a collaborated defense, a single skimmer wont even scratch the surface of this endless plague. The biggest problem now is sheer numbers. Crude in the gulf growing by the day, still with no end in sight. While many are satisfied with hundreds cleaning mile long stretches of beach, in reality it will take thousands of people to effectively clean these shores. Required training, and fear of illness remain a momentary speed bump, but in the next weeks hundreds plan to become HAZMAT certified to add hands to this desperate cause. We can only hope that fears remain fears, and nothing more.