The Crude Erl Elephant
It’s dishearteningly amazing when, after all the rock bottom you’ve hit and then begged, borrowed, stolen, crawled, dug out, and run from to get out of, something else comes along and clotheslines you once again.
That’s very much how most of the people here I know feel about the still-flowing river of oil currently at our doorstep in the Gulf Coast…only the situation, in some ways, feels even more excruciating than that of the initial aftermath of the events of 8/29/05.
You see, the flood waters of 2005 have receded. The levees and pumps, as faulty as they still are, are there. Most of us are still here to carry on, and many of us are constantly raising awareness of the role Louisiana’s wetlands have historically played in reducing the effects of storm surges from hurricanes, a protection that has been eroding away over the decades at the rate of many football fields a day. Possible ways of eliminating the fragility of this ecosystem’s existence and putting it on some surer footing have been hampered by two things, mostly: money and our willingness as a nation to let the pipelines from offshore oil wells decimate the wetlands.
And now comes the Deepwater Horizon platform’s explosion and its faulty blowout preventers that are spewing crude oil from deep under water all over the Gulf. The oil has reached our shores and is already coating some oyster beds at a time when they are supposed to be making more oysters. Shrimp and crabs will be affected as well. Birds are getting oily. The wetlands, to express it in the crudest, bluntest way I can, are fucked.
Which brings me to this: say Janette Desautel survives the crushing debts she’s got on her hands four months after the storm. She’s no longer having to pay her suppliers week-to-week, the waitstaff and the kitchen staff aren’t schlepping off to other places, so that turnover isn’t as high, and her skill with seafood is better than ever, a real renaissance. Who knows, her house might be 7/8ths done by now.
And then this happens.
Janette’s crafty, now. She’s survived the storm and the hard times. There’s other foods she can cook, but carrying fresh seafood from Louisiana waters is going to get more and more difficult to do, as the costs of it will double. Places like Casamento’s, Felix’s, the Acme are already suffering … chefs with greater restaurant empires than she has will also be hit … terrible decisions will have to be faced , as the staples of much of Louisiana’s food culture were wiped out by BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron International, our governments’ laxity with regards to offshore safety, and our own dependency on fossil fuels.
Do you start doing the same ol’ dishes with seafood from out of state? From out of the country? Do you jack up the prices accordingly and explain that Big Erl did it? Do you pull a Creighton Bernette with Brocato’s gelato and refuse to cook any seafood dishes at all until the coast is restored to at least what it was pre-blowout? What is a Louisiana chef to do?
Thing is, there are three pillars to the tourism industry that is still getting back on its feet after nearly five years: New Orleans’ food, its music, and its culture. And here we are, crippled all over again.
To help with some funds: head for the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund and contribute. Some resources on the oil spill and numbers to call to report oiled wildlife and oil on shore in your area are there as well. Another source, complete with a timeline of events, is at this link.
500 paid workers are needed right off to help clean up. Details are here.
Got technology solutions for what’s going on down there? Submit your solutions at this EPA site.
Some information on the treatment of affected wildlife is here.
Got anything else to add, any other useful information, any helpful things to say? Comment away. Nicely. We’re a tad hysterical down here, despite our U.S. senator’s admonition for us to remain calm.