Friday, June 18, 2010
I've known for weeks now that oil from the Deepwater Horizon Spill would eventually reach our beaches.
The images from Louisiana and Mississippi are heartbreaking and the idea that this incredible wonderland that we call the Gulf is dying right in front of our eyes is almost more than I can wrap my mind around.
For the past two weeks I've watched the oil move closer and closer to us and have been driven to take my children to the beach.
We've snorkled the grass beds. Played in the surf. Walked the beach looking for seashells. Rolled in the sand. Played in the boat. Spent hours sitting in the water soaking up every last moment.
And we've waited.
Until now. The oil has arrived and the day that we've all dreaded has come.
Wednesday morning large tar balls started washing ashore on Okaloosa Island.
Lots of them.
By Thursday afternoon they're also along SanDestin and Topsail beaches.
A 25 square mile mass of oil is drifting 1 mile south of us and coming our way.
The East Pass was closed at 7:oo Wednesday night. They'll reopen the Pass for the outgoing tide and then close it again as the tide starts to come back in.
The hope is that the booms will keep oil out of Choctawhatchee Bay.
The sad reality is that this is what happens to these booms on a regular basis.
The booms pull lose or are sucked under by the current which renders them ineffective.
There are a lot of theories out there about ways to protect the Pass but so far the Coast Guard and DEP seem to think these will work the best.
I believe that it's important to try every possible solution but the reality is that no one knows what - if anything - will work.
Our waters are now closed to fishing. Devasting for the people who make their living from the sea. We're home to the largest charter boat fleet in Florida and our boats are trapped in the harbor and the fish they should be catching are dying in oil.
The economic effects are going to be staggering.
The realization that the Red Snapper my son caught last week might very well have been his last is heartbreaking.
Meanwhile oil is still gushing into the Gulf. Because while BP was able to drill at that depth they're unable to fix anything at that depth.
And our paradise has become a shore lined with booms and tar and oil.
I haven't mentioned the wildlife we're seeing - I'm afraid if I go there I may start to cry and won't be able to stop.
This whole mess is like watching a loved one die a slow and painful death.
The hardest part is that this isn't like a hurricane. Even with a devasting blow like Ivan you ride it out and then pick up the pieces and move forward.
It will take decades - if that - to clean this up.