One Year After BP Oil Spill, Jefferson Parish Recovery Slow But Improving

On April 20th 2010, we were all shocked by the news of the Deepwater Horizon Well Explosion and the death of 11 crewmen. The photos from the rig explosion were horrifying but no one could have forecast the images and the damage to come.

Now one year after the BP Oil Spill, scientists, elected officials and business owners are still assessing the damage and we’re still seeing reports of tar balls on beaches along the Gulf Coast.

It took 23 days for oil from the well to reach landfall and it took 87 days for the well to capped after several unsuccessful attempts. Oil infiltrated oyster beds, shrimp and fishing areas and decimated the seafood and tourism industry.

Jefferson Parish and the Gulf Coast are slowly recovering from the BP Oil Spill but we are far from being out of the woods. New reports are emerging almost daily about the continuing impact of the BP Oil Spill on the seafood industry on the Gulf Coast and in Jefferson Parish.

Scientists reported this week that about 40% of Gulf oysters are dead. This will setback the oyster industry for years and will further damage the reputation of Louisiana oysters.

“The impact of the BP Oil Disaster is far reaching in Jefferson Parish,” Jefferson Parish President John Young said to ClickJefferson.com. “The continued recovery is a long road ahead of us. The destruction caused directly by BP’s oil goes beyond the contamination of our beautiful beaches and coastline. The loss of precious marsh and wildlife has been devastating, but we are optimistic nature’s resiliency eventually will allow healing.”

Many business owners would not speak to ClickJefferson.com on the record about their recovery in the aftermath of the largest manmade ecological disaster in our history. Many have not been fully compensated by BP or were in various stages of the claims process and feared possible retribution or further delays if they spoke out publicly.

For his part, Gulf Coast Claims Czar Ken Feinberg says that the claims process is running about as smoothly as it can.

“We have processed about ¾ of all claims,” Feinberg said. “Over $1.5 Billion in claims have been paid to Louisiana businesses alone.”

“Oystermen are getting 4 times what they’ve claimed to allow for possible future damages.”

“That’s BS,” one Jefferson Parish oysterman who preferred to remain anonymous said. “We make the bulk of our money over a couple of month period. I filed a claim for $26,000 and I got approved for $7,000. How is that compensating me and making me whole.”

That oysterman is not alone. ClickJefferson.com spoke with more than 10 other oystermen, shrimpers, and other business owners directly impacted by the BP Oil Spill that still have not received anywhere near the amount of damages that they claimed.

Parish President John Young continues to remain cautiously optimistic and hopeful that the BP Claims Process will be fairly and accurately administered.

“The loss of livelihoods in an already challenging economy has been profound on many people in Jefferson Parish,” President Young said. “Those who are suffering continue to be hopeful, they one day will be made whole.”

That day cannot come fast enough for many JP and Gulf Coast business owners.

One thing that everyone agrees on is the resiliency and work ethic of Jefferson Parish and the Seafood Industry.

Newly-elected Jefferson Parish Councilman-At-Large Chris Roberts, who was formerly the Councilman of District 1 and whose District included the hard hit areas of Grand Isle and Lafitte, marvels at the strength of Jefferson Parish residents and business owners.

“Despite having dealt with 5 disasters since 2005, coastal residents of Jefferson Parish continue to pick up the pieces and rebuild their homes and businesses,” Councilman Roberts said.

Both President Young and Councilman Roberts agree that the Jefferson Parish and Gulf Coast Seafood Industry needs our continued support, now more than ever.

“One blessing in the midst of this disaster is the assurance Louisiana’s seafood is safe to eat and still the best in the world,” President Young said. “Our shrimpers, oystermen and fishermen and their families remain committed to providing the highest quality and best tasting seafood Louisiana has to offer.”

Councilman Roberts added, “As we enter peak seafood and tourism seasons the best way to assist our coastal friends is to demand Louisiana seafood and make time for a weekend getaway in Grand Isle or Lafitte.”

President Young and Councilman Roberts will continue to keep the heat on BP and take steps to continue the process of fairly compensating Jefferson Parish Business Owners for their damages.

“Rest assured we will continue to hold BP accountable and responsible for making our coast, natural resources, and our citizens whole,” President Young said. “At the end of the day, we will come out of this disaster better and stronger.”

Walt Bennetti is the publisher of ClickJefferson.com, where this piece originally appeared.



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