The View From Mississippi
Pro Surfer Mary Osborne’s Firsthand Take
It’s been a week exactly since I traveled down to the Gulf of Mississippi. I was completely unsure of what I was going to experience, see, and feel. Being from California, it is almost impossible to imagine what is really happening down in the Southern states with this tragic oil spill. We see things in the media, which is always construed and far from the truth. To experience something firsthand is an entirely a different story. Honestly, I am still very disturbed and confused by this horrific oil spill. I am in my office editing a movie montage of the experience and I am having a difficult time holding the tears back. The photographs and real-life interviews are sadly disturbing.
The 26-mile coastline in Gulf Port, Mississippi, is now covered with tar balls, tractors, and BP workers scouring the beach. The same beach I spent watching beautiful fireworks on our nation’s Independence Day, three days later was covered in tar. The most frightening part was the beach was still open to the public. Children swimming in the ocean, tar sticking to tourists shoes, beach businesses down more than 70 percent. Why hasn’t BP closed these beaches? Who is in charge here? What is our government doing to protect these people? What are the longterm heath effects of this toxic oil spill?
A local Gulf Port fisherman tells me, “It’s so sad to think we know more about our universe than our oceans. Since the spill, all of the local fisherman are out of work. We have no idea what the effects of this spill will bring for us longterm. We don’t even know if we can ever fish again. I had $145,000 with my boat and business certificates, today I have nothing.”
It seems that the Southern States have been getting hit dramatically hard in the last five years. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina wiped out Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. In 2006-’07, citizens rebuilt the physical aspects they lost from Katrina. People were able to slowly start over, build their community, and regain faith. In 2008-’09, all U.S. citizens experienced the effects of our nation’s economic recession in some way, shape, or form. Then, on April 20, 2010 an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig has been called the largest environmental disaster in America’s history, changing the lives of many.
Local business owners Collen and Todd Reed speak out with frustration, “This year was supposed to be our best year yet. We struggled non-stop since Katrina with various economic hurdles. Businesses were slowly picking up, tourists were traveling back to Mississippi, spirits were high, and now this.” While trying to hold back the tears, Colleen states, “It’s almost like AIDS. You can’t see the slow long death of this oil spill.”
Strange how our nation’s economic downfall and this oil spill are both manmade catastrophes. At least Katrina was a natural disaster where one could rebuild the physical elements of their life that were lost. At this point in time, the future is entirely unknown. So who is to blame in this situation? We easily point fingers at BP, our government, and other people. The reality is, we are all to blame. It is time to stop blaming others and take matters into our own hands. We need to make changes to protect our Mother Earth, changes for this current generation and, most importantly, the future generations. —Mary Osborne