BAY JIMMY, La.-- In Plaquemines Parish, where the wetlands meet the water, the sounds of nature mix in with the sounds behind the effort to save it. The sound of generators pierce the air.
"We still got a lot of work to do," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. "We got a lot of clean-up and we still got a lot of oil out there.
Six months after the start of the oil spill, crews are scattered across Bay Jimmy, where oil sheen floats on the water and where sticky oil clings to grasses and stalks. The current weapon of choice: vacuum systems, which run off of generators on boats.
"The oil is not evaporating-- it's not dissipating, it's sitting there," said P.J. Hahn, who heads up the parish's Coastal Zone Management Department.
The sticky oil that crews still collect is placed in steel drums and hauled away for disposal. Workers are not allowed to step onto the marsh, so they use attachments to extend their reach-- but it only goes so far.
Even though the oil spill happened on April 20, it didn't reach Bay Jimmy until about a month and a half later. Still, the damage was swift and many of the marshes there have yet to recover. That can be seen in areas hit by oil, where no new shoots appear to be growing so far. The fear now is that erosion could begin in earnest and wear away places where birds nest.
"We have to get that oil out of the marsh," Hahn said.
Just in Bay Jimmy alone, thousands upon thousands of gallons of oil-water mix continue to be collected on a weekly basis.
In the past week, from Oct. 12-19, crews brought in 18,272 gallons of it, along with 7,679 bags of tar balls.
"I've given up," Nungesser said. "You know, I can sit there and you can lie to me only so much."
The passage of time has done little to temper Nungesser's critique of the clean-up effort. However, he said some things are beginning to improve.
"We're a lot better off because we're not getting hit all over," Nungesser said. "We've got some critical areas that we need to stay the course and pick up the oil."
What is missing now, he said, is a long-term plan for what happens with the oil spill response after the end of hurricane season.