Day 60

Remember when the Saints were heading for the Super Bowl? Everyone joked the Saints winning the Super Bowl would be like pigs flying, hell freezing over. The city was peppered with Believe Dat signs. Everything amazing starts with an ability to imagine the impossible – to see what no one else can – the reality proven over and over – that ANYTHING can happen.

Not only was the Saints’ victory watched on more televisions in this country than any other show in the history of the TV, it was watched on more TV’s in Canada than any show ever before. Who Dat shirts flew off shelves all over the nation. People said things like, “We’re all Louisianans now.”

Well, folks, we’re all Louisianans now. What happens to this region is happening to all of us. Yeah, the effects are local now, but it’ll reach you eventually, somehow. And, more importantly, our country is being revealed to us, we are seeing its weaknesses and, therefore, opportunities for growth and change.

All that said, nothing is more important than stopping the oil. No lost-in-translation moment of someone calling us, “small people” is more important. No politician making and retracting apologies to please various groups of people is more important. I turn on the news and want to bang on something when I hear so much jabbering about agendas and constituencies while up to 2.5 million gallons of oil flow into the Gulf everyday.

President Obama’s speech this week was a mixed bag, but it was a speech about things that aren’t about stopping the oil. We are trusting the most untrustworthy oil company operating in the U.S. to handle a disaster for which they are under criminal investigation. The quickest solution they have to offer is scheduled for mid-August and many are cautioning us that it is a risky operation at best. I’m no expert, but it seems we ought to have another plan in place for when that one fails. If we can find a quicker, less risky solution, we should put it into play. I fear we’re not even looking for another answer.

How can I help but be skeptical of a company that has lied and failed at every turn? How can I help but be concerned about stopping the from reaching our shores when the clean up and recovery efforts sound to be chaotic and ineffectual (wiping marsh grass with absorbent pads???)?  Yesterday, the Coast Guard finally let the barges with vacuum trucks go back out into the water. In case you haven’t already heard, the locals here, the same folks who came up with sand berms (which have still only been 25% approved), etc., have been using the trucks that suck crap from portalets to suck BP’s crap from the marshes. It’s slow going work, but it’s working and they’re still waiting for all the equipment that was promised them through proper channels. The Coast Guard shut the operation down, all of the barges and trucks, for 24 hours to do safety inspections. Sure, we shouldn’t just let anyone with an idea go out there and implement it, but can’t the Coast Guard check for fire extinguishers and life jackets while the barges and trucks are operational? Couldn’t they have shut down one at a time to check them out? This is an emergency.

And the whole situation shed light on the same major problem Tony Hayward’s testimony presented – no one seems to know exactly who’s in charge of what. We are 60 days into this unprecedented catastrophe and there’s still no clear chain of command. Local officials in every state have complained of the difficulties in getting things accomplished. It breaks my heart to see so much disorganization and frustration 60 days into this emergency. And though I feel silly stating it, the person in charge should be here on the Gulf everyday.

It’s way past time to focus on the real problem – stopping the flow of oil and stopping the oil already spilled from reaching shores. Nothing about who said what to whom about whatever is more important than that.

During the Krewe of Dead Pelicans second line on June 5th, we had a very simple chant. Stop the oil. Save the Gulf. ANYTHING is possible if we can only first imagine it. I’m imagining the possibility that we will stop the oil without having to wait for BP’s timelines. And I’m imagining that we can still save the Gulf and it’s bounty. The Saints proved it can happen.

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Filed under oil spill catastrophe, parade, Super Bowl 2010, the Saints

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