Oh, poor Gulf Coast, how my heart breaks for you. Oh BP what a mess you have made both literally and in the hearts of all Americans who love our white sandy beaches and Gulf-Getaways!
The first "bad sign" Mom and I noticed was after we checked into the hotel. We did some exploring to see where we will be setting up tomorrow. The conference room was still marked from the previous activity..."Oil-Spill Cleanup Training". Hmm...let's get out of here and go see the area.
As we drove west along Old Hwy 98 we could see the beach. It didn't look bad yet, but there was an ominous emptiness about the whole setting. Then we saw this:Yep, that's an open supply truck dispensing yellow rubber gloves, yellow rubber clogs, and bottled water to about 100 workers who were seemingly about to go to work on the beach. They were lined up for almost 1/4 mile! For those of you familiar with Destin, this was just outside of The Whale's Tail restaurant.
Next Mom and I went to eat at Famous Harry T's. Great food and cold beer were readily available. I say readily b/c we only had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. Sure, it was Sunday night, but still, I can remember and I would have expected to wait twice that long. Again, you can just tell there are much thinner crowds here this summer.
Our waitress was very nice. Mom was grilling her. "What do you think about this oil? Will we see it? Have you seen any?" She mentioned a couple of tarballs and said she feared the worst was yet to come. She went on about research she had done, what to expect, etc. Very informative. Clearly saddened by this whole event, but at a loss for what she personally can do.
Later the manager was making rounds to the tables. He seemed nice enough, so Mom tried the same routine with him. "What do you think? Will we see oil?" He said he encouraged all of his wait staff not to discuss the oil. He didn't want to scare people. He believed this was more hype than substance. Mom said to him, "We just saw a long line of workers who looked like they were suiting up to go walk the beaches." This manager looked my mom directly in the face, paused, and said to her "Did you know the Doobey Brothers are in town tonight? Should be a great concert." I mean, he just point-blank changed the subject! He ignored the questioning!
Again, my heart is broken for this area. But we can't ignore the need for awareness and for help.
I am lifting my prayers to God for the locals whose businesses are struggling and whose personal lives are in turmoil due to the worsened economy. I pray for the area itself, land that has possibly been forever altered due to carelessness and failure to prepare for all accidents.
On one final note, I would still encourage people to vacation here. If you are like me, when you have come to the Gulf in the past you have awakened and headed straight to the beach until sunset. Well, there are so many other unexplored attractions here. Come back to the destination you love and re-examine it. Now is the time to support this area more than ever before, not abandon it during a time of despair! Plus, you can likely get a heck of a deal on a rental!