Capping well only first step to recovery

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 17, 2010

BP announced Thursday it has capped the well that had been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico since April. Now anyone could be forgiven for being somewhat skeptical of the claim, but assuming the cap holds and not another drop leaks into the water, what does that mean?

One thing’s for certain, it is not yet time to throw hands in the air and start celebrating. In fact, in many ways the real work is just beginning.

While the oil giant works on a permanent solution to the problem — the cap is only a temporary stop until the relief well is completed — federal and local agencies can now truly begin to assess the extent of the damage and work on efforts to clean up the areas already affected and strategies to keep oil out of places that have remained untouched thus far.

Locally, although the spill has had few tangible effects beyond the occasional stench of crude wafting in the breeze, many have begun to feel the pinch from a financial perspective. Restaurateurs have had to start importing seafood from afar, and oil and gas workers, including those who supply the industry, live in constant fear of a drilling moratorium.

Some of this is obviously out of the hands of the everyday citizen, but there are things just about anyone can do to help out. Continue to patronize local restaurants. Continue to give time and money to relief efforts. And most of all, keep a vigilant eye toward those abuses that led to this crisis in the first place.

In this region, the economies and ways of life are interconnected like nowhere else in the country. But together we will make it through this. Recent history has demonstrated nothing if not the resiliency of the people who live here.

So while the rest of nation rejoices, here in South Louisiana we know there is still a long way to go before this nightmare can be put behind us.