VENICE, La. -- After a one day break, Gov. Bobby Jindal was back on the water to get a firsthand look at the oil spill response.
Jindal said oil has impacted 100 miles of coastline. By air and boat he inspected the mouth of the Mississippi River finding oil still there in Pass a Loutre.
“What’s most distressing, you remember I told you back then, the biologists predicted that within five to seven days you’d see discoloration; well, we’re seeing it,” Jindal said. “We literally went into the cane, went into the marsh on air boats, and you could see the heavy, thick oil still there. This is an area that should have been teaming with life. You could see the discoloration of the cane.
“This, again, is one of the most important nurseries for the Gulf.”
Jindal once again urged the Army Corps of Engineers to approve at least part of the plan to rebuild barrier islands to block oil. But he and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser expressed frustration with the lack of effective cleanup actions.
“There is no life in that marsh. It is dead,” Nungesser said. “The only difference is, the cane instead of dead up two foot is now up four foot. Another couple days, it’ll be dead. It’ll crumble, and that island will float out to sea. Pass a Loutre will now start about five miles in.”
“We’ve been fighting this oil for over a month now, requesting resources, too often finding the response to be too little, too late,” Jindal said.
15 miles up the highway from Venice here at Joshua’s Marina, the fear, the stress, the uncertainty continues for those who make their living on the water.
“I have to go 13 hour drive, Morgan City,” said Steve Mai, a Buras fisherman.
It was a long trip to find open fishing grounds, but Mai brought back 10,000 pounds of shrimp, but he quickly loaded more ice onto his boat to head back out shrimping as long as possible.
“I don’t want to work for BP. I want to go shrimping,” Mai said.
But the Little Nicky, Mai’s boat, was the only boat to bring shrimp to Dicharo’s Seafood Wednesday, and the uncertainty of what sections may be open to fishing is driving up business.
“Before you knew it, I had 30 boats working for me. But, you know, it’s 10 and now it’s 30, but when all the boats started going, they shut it down again. So now we’re sitting here doing nothing,” said Derek Dicharo of Dicharo’s seafood. “I’m very worried.”
“We got 61 boats tied up in this harbor, and another 50 tied up in Venice that were promised to go to work that ain’t got a job yet down there,” said Mike Bertholet of Dicharo’s Seafood.
For everyone in this business, the stress levels are growing along with worries of the future.
“They’re very stressed out. Believe me. I can’t even sleep myself at nighttime. I have a 9-year-old son. I’m going to teach him everything about this dock. I’ve been here 34 years and myself, I don’t know which way to go now,” Dicharo said. “Today, I feel like it’s my last day.”
Political experts James Carville and Mary Magdalene were on the trip with the governor. Carville said he hopes President Barack Obama when he visits Friday will see the oil spill for himself and take action.
Nungesser said if the cleanup operation isn’t underway by Saturday morning at the mouth of the river, parish crews will begin doing the work themselves.