100 days since spill began, experiences vary widely among businesses

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by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on July 28, 2010 at 5:28 PM

BELLE CHASSE AND LAFITTE, La. -- From fishing to tourism to oil-related industries, the oil spill is affecting a wide variety of businesses in the region. One hundreds days after the spill began, Eyewitness News revisited some of those that we've profiled during that time.

For restaurants whose menus rely heavily on seafood, Lil G's Kajun Restaurant in Belle Chasse took a hit from the oil spill.

"Not only is the product not here, the people aren't -- they hear oil spill every day, day in and day out," said owner Therese Creppel. "The first thing they don't want to do is go to Belle Chasse and eat seafood."

Eyewitness News first met Therese Creppel about six weeks into the spill. Things looked bleak back then; customers were scarce and so was the seafood. She wondered if she would have to re-print her menus and remove many of the seafood dishes listed on it.

"What a trying time for us, you know?" she said.

However, Creppel managed to get some seafood from other sources and things are cooking again -- thanks, in part, to the oil spill itself. The restaurant is supplementing its loss in customers by creating box lunches for oil spill workers, all paid for by BP.

"If we didn't have box lunches to do, we would have to layoff people," she said. "It would be a complete disaster. A complete disaster."

Over in Lafitte, Sammy Brooks would say a disaster pretty much sums up what it has been like for some tourism-related businesses there.

"We get phone calls, you know, people asking is there oil in your area and what not," he said.

For his airboat tour company, "Airboat Adventures," bookings are down 75 percent since the spill began. The downturn happened right in the middle of what should be their busiest time of the year.

"Normally at this time of year, you can't find a spot on a boat. All the boats are loaded up and headed out," Brooks said. "You can look: we're not bothered at all with any oil here. But it's just the perception that everyone has now -- that oil is all over the place."

With 100 days passed, what remains now is the uncertainty of what the next 100 days might bring. How someone looks forward to it may very well depend on how well they are doing at the moment, and that varies widely among the affected businesses.

"It's not good and from what I'm seeing, it's not going to be any better any time soon," Brooks said, as he looked out at the swamp he usually tours.

"It almost makes you breath easier," Creppel said, as her employees got ready for lunchtime at the restaurant. "It's like, 'Wow, maybe there might be a normal life after this.'"

Just how normal it will eventually get, is something only time will truly tell.

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