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Need, Greed and Oodles of Red Tape: A Visit to Yscloskey, Louisiana, Part 2

If there is one thing I believe, it is that one should always stay true to oneself. So I must say that I whole heartedly disagree with and am rather angered by those who would say that they are “glad” this incident occurred. Yes, it is good that some very important issues are being brought to the publics attention, but this is all to horrible, to dastardly to ever be “glad” for.

Now that I have gotten that out, on with the story. Tuesday I took Rain (a very interesting young man from idaho) back to Yscloskey, Louisiana, where he is staying in a travel trailer with his grandfather at the former home of Captain Ricky Robin (a local fisherman). The actual house on the property, I am told is the only house in the area that was left standing after Katrina and it only survived because it is held aloft at least fifteen feet in the air by and anchored to large concrete columns. Though the house is still standing it is clear that it was almost a total loss and is definitely not habitable. Just across the street from Ricky’s is a pile of debris which includes a Port-o-pot, piles like this one litter the bayous around NOLA, a constant reminder of the hardships these communities have already suffered and are far from overcoming.

After looking around for a bit Rain and I decided to walk to the store. Where we met Sharon an interesting local who takes a picture of everyone who enters her store (including people like the director of homeland security). According to Sharon, the proprietor of Sharon’s Discount Store (the only store in Yscloskey) the fishermen’s biggest worry at this point is that a depression (as in a low pressure cell) will develop in the area causing water levels to rise to the point that water and undoubtedly oil from the gulf would be brought into all of the estuaries surrounding NOLA and surely destroy the marine life that fishermen need to survive.

As Rain and I left Sharon’s Store, we couldn’t help but notice a caravan of twenty some odd vehicles, twelve of which belonged to the wildlife department. The caravan was returning from an apparent trip to Breton sound where I assume they where checking oil boom recently deployed in the area or perhaps checking on an apparent bait fish die off that was reported by fishermen earlier this week (see Dotty Oliver’s posts for more on that).

Rain and I decided that we would go take a look for ourselves. So, we promptly located a pirougue boat (the kind cajun children use to learn the trade), a paddle and some rope. Then we set the boat in the canal and headed toward Shell Beach where the army and or national guard have set up some kind of station, which includes a mobile floating bridge, I am still trying to understand how such a contraption would be useful in this situation.

Taking a right out of the canal and past Shell Beach, we headed east toward Breton Sound. Along the way we saw a lot of debris undoubtedly left behind by hurricanes, but no oil and no dead marine life. After paddling for some two hours or so and stopping on shore a few times to look around, Rain and I decided that the day should be called and so we headed back to the canals. I must say I was actually very glad that we didn’t find anything noteworthy, perhaps it is a good sign for the fishermen in the area who can and will continue fishing the area until the ever widening fishing ban reaches them.

Yesterday, George Barisich, president of The United Commercial Fisherman’s Association stopped in to talk to Gary for a bit. He said that the UCFA is pushing for BP to provide subsidies to the fishermen effected by this disaster, though results sounded as though they where a long way off. George also said that this is turning into a worst case scenario, what with bait fish die offs occurring in inland waterways and dispersants making it hard to track the movements of the oil. The currents, wind, and tides are spreading this disaster out in every direction and marine populations that die off this year will be affecting the catch for years to come. I know that a lot of focus has been put on the Loop Current over the last week but it is my understanding that a current running along the coastline of Texas is likely to bring oil ashore there before it ever reaches the Keys.

Before he left George said that between caring for his family, the fishermen, and recovering from Katrina and other hurricanes and now this, the past five years have been nothing but a blur as I am sure they have been for most of the people down here. He went on to say that people should put aside prejudices when thinking about alternative fuels. I’ve got to agree with him on that point, perhaps if we would think more about what we are doing we wouldn’t have to leave the delicate balance of the ecosystem and the lively hood of americans to chance. So, lets all support the fishermen on this, be true to ourselves and show that true national pride is about supporting people, not corporations.

[Editor’s note, Part 1 here.]

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Ivan Oleander

Ivan Oleander

I was born accidentally in the fall of '84 to unwed parents. When I was ten months old, my mother and I were in a car accident -- I survived; her sister adopted me. When I was seven, my aunt married an abusive alcoholic who made our lives ... more interesting; the next year, my great grandfather (one of my favorite people) passed away; not long after, another one of my favorite people, my young granny, committed suicide, family and friends continued to pass on, more hilarity ensued. Today I am a full-time college student attending the University of Central Arkansas. I have spent a decent amount of time traveling the country (visited 37 out of 50 states so far) trying to get to know and understand its people. I have worked in restaurants, corn fields, apple orchards, greenhouses, candy factories.... I am currently fulfilling my dream by starting a non-profit. I love this country -- its wonderful and varied people. I know what the hard road looks like and how difficult it can to keep pushing on. I would like to think that I have gained a great deal of experience through the years, though they may be few in number, and I want to use that experience to help as many people as possible, all the while learning and experiencing as much as possible.