Businesses hurt by spill need local support

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded killing 11 workers. The resulting oil spill dumped millions of barrels of viscous oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil flowed from the busted well for nearly three months before it was sealed by a temporary cap.

The economic impact of the disaster was far-reaching. Tourism, a major source of revenue for the Gulf Coast, was practically nonexistent during the summer of 2010. With most fishing waters closed, the local seafood industry suffered greatly and in some cases irreversibly. Also, a federal moratorium on drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico hurt the pocketbooks of those directly and indirectly involved in the drilling industry.

Now, a year later, many of those affected by the oil spill are still struggling. Fishing has resumed in the Gulf, but catches are not what they had been prior to the spill and some buyers are still unsure of the product. Furthermore, new reports of tar balls washing up on Gulf beaches have hurt the tourism industry’s efforts to get back on its feet. All the while, promises of outside help have yielded few concrete results.

Once again, it is up to the people of the region to take the recovery into their own hands, and although making a difference can seem like an impossibility, there are things each of us can do to help our neighbors in need.

Patronize local seafood merchants and restaurants. Plan a getaway to the Gulf Coast.

Small acts like these can go a long way toward ensuring south Louisiana remains the vibrant and unique place that it is.