Bill Capo / Action Reporter
INDEPENDENCE, La. -- The parking lot is empty at DoRan Seafood, one of the largest employers in Independence. The $4 million processing plant is shut down when it should be buzzing with activity.
"Usually in October, this time of year we usually run about 10 to 12 hours a day, five days a week, with about 40 to 50 employees," said DoRan Seafood Owner Randy Pearce.
One year after the BP oil spill, they say shrimp are still scarce in Louisiana.
"As of the end of September, we're looking at numbers probably down about 80 to 90 percent from the catch in Louisiana," said Pearce.
DoRan Operations Manager Jeff Schwab said he can't even remember the last time they were able to get shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico.
"We were getting some from the East Coast last week," he said. So they're down to about 20 workers now.
"Those that we've kept aren't working full 40 hour weeks," said Schwab. "Their hours are cut tremendously."
They have spent months waiting for Ken Feinberg's oil spill claims group to issue emergency payments.
"We got originally $66,000 from BP," said Pearce. "Since Feinberg came in we've gotten nothing."
Pearce said he has a multi-million dollar claim.
"I think the last time they came was two months ago, and they said 10 to 14 days you're going to have an answer," said Schwab.
They say people come here nearly every day looking for work. They keep their names in a notebook. But right now they're having trouble keeping their own employees on the job, and that's why they asked me to get in touch with Feinberg's group, to work out a solution.
They desperately need help here, and know that without it, they can't last much longer.
"Six months to a year, I would say, and then we'd be totally out," worried Pearce.
"I'm hoping they'll start paying claims, sped up the process, trim some of the bureaucracy," asked Schwab.
They're caught in an escalating financial tragedy, and they wonder if Feinberg even cares. But a spokesman for Feinberg said someone would look into this situation.
I'll let you know what happens.