LAFITTE, La. -- The Coast Guard and BP spent more than $150,000, networking wires and purchasing equipment for a command post in the town of Jean Lafitte.

Now, about a month later, the new federal on-scene commander has moved the troops that once filled the senior center in lower Jefferson Parish to Grand Isle.

'This is a mobile force that we have,' said Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft. 'If you can envision it as a fire-fighting team, that goes to where the fire is at, for the present, the fire is out in Lafitte, but certainly we will immediately redeploy there if necessary.'

That comment and the decision to close the command post don't sit well with Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts.

'I don't agree with that one bit at all,' said Roberts. 'There's millions of gallons of oil that's out in the water. We have marshland that have been impacted. By no means is the threat or the emergency over here. I think that is a very short-sighted comment to make.'

Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner also had some harsh words for the Coast Guard during his testimony this week before the New Orleans City Council.

'For the Coast Guard to come in and close the EOC in Lafitte, is just a slap in the face. And they shouldn't be bullying and ruling with arrogance, they should be down there working with the locals,' said Kerner.

'We're leaving equipment in Lafitte,' said Zukunft. 'We're protecting Lafitte. We're protecting it closer to the front line out at Barataria Pass, Four Bayou Pass, where the oil may come in.'

Even though Lafitte is on the water, it's still about 30 miles inland from Grand Isle. Roberts said that makes this town a lot safer location for the Coast Guard Command Post, particularly during what is expected to be a very busy hurricane season.

'We've told them and we've gone on the record saying if a storm comes, you're going to be sorry you did this,' said Roberts. 'I hope that we don't have to prove to them that they're wrong.'

'As the oil moves, we have to move our people to where that oil is at,' said Zukunft.

The federal on-scene commander also ordered that much of the hard boom and other equipment, now sitting at the dock in Hopedale, be moved to higher ground.

Zukunft said he doesn't want to see the material blown or washed into the bayou if a hurricane or tropical storm heads our way.

It will now be stored in Gonzales.

Read or Share this story: