This post is modified from the original posting at my other blog, Grasping for Objectivity.
Alabama was not blessed with much coastline (I personally feel that is due to Florida being a bit greedy on coastline-choosing day), but the beaches we did get are gorgeous. Different than any other coastline I’ve ever been to, the Gulf of Mexico beaches have the most luxurious of white sand to sink your toes into, the perfect amount of waves for families to play in, and our little beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have just the right amount of civilization to make it fun without being over commercialized.
However, all of that is in the process of changing. The BP oil crisis has made it to our beaches, and won’t be leaving for quite some time.
We headed down here on Friday to spend some time with family and to enjoy our favorite getaway town. We knew that we were within days of the projected oil landfall, but we didn’t realize that we would be down here for the historical Day One.
We ate dinner Friday night at Sea N Suds, admiring somewhat melancholically the pristine beaches and gorgeous water. The twitter reports had already started coming in that there were small amounts of oil being found down the beach, so we knew this would be a last moment.
On Saturday, we headed to the beach to see for ourselves.
It was a gorgeous day – perfect for swimming in the ocean. The air was warm, the water was warm, the waves were perfect.
But it was too late.
The sand was lined with globules of nasty, thick oil:
It stuck to our feet and refused to come off – which makes me shiver to think what it is doing to the countless animals that come in contact with it.
And toxic tar balls were floating in the water, resulting in the waters being deemed unsafe to swim in due to hazardous chemicals.
All I could think about was that this was just day two. It was going to get SO much worse. AND they haven’t even stopped the leak yet!!
I know I’m not the most educated person on this issue – one of the least, I’m sure. But I can’t get past this point: If you’re technologically able to drill through the ocean and earth and harness oil, then you should be technologically able and responsible enough to fix things in a reasonable timeframe when they go wrong. And if you’re not, then quit putting our world in peril with your mistakes.
Of course, I had just seen the BP commercial the night before, apologizing profusely and promising that everything would be made right, and that thousands of people and hundreds of boats were working on the cleanup all over the coastline. I even heard one BP exec say when interviewed on the news, “We have twice the number of people that are needed working on cleanup.”
But there were no signs of BP here this weekend, unless you count their nasty mess. No signs of anyone doing anything except beachgoers staring in shock and dread of what was to come for our precious beaches.
And I cannot tell you how much that breaks my heart.
And there are so, so many more people and animals that are and will be much more tragically impacted than us.
I don’t see how BP can ever “make right” how vastly they’ve taken away from all of us.
However, though we may not have been able to prevent the ecological damage that BP did to our shores, we can help prevent the economical fallout to our precious beach towns!
I am committed to continuing to visit and take my vacation dollars to our coast, because if we don’t, when things DO go back to normal ecologically, what we knew as our towns will no longer exist.
There are so many great attractions in our beach towns besides our obviously affected beaches, and I intend to feature as many of these as I can this summer. Hopefully this will help people adjust their vacations without relocating them.
If you would like to make suggestions as to what should be featured, or better yet, if you would like to write one of these feature posts, please comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you know of reputable organizations to which we can support that will help the restoration of our Ecosystem, please share!
Our beach towns need us! And I am committed to doing whatever I can to help them survive. I encourage you to join me in this cause!
So glad you wrote this and have visited the beach. We haven't made it down there yet from Mobile, but we plan to soon.
This is a great idea Rachel!
I've created a Facebook site to help remind people that we still have a local tax base in Gulf Shores that needs our help. Join if you feel so inclined. We'll be featuring some ideas in the future about ways to help support the area -- even from far away.
I've posted some other things to do while at the beach on my blog:
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