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Marshall: "I Feel Like They Just Killed My Best Friend"

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June 14, 2010

Marshall: "I Feel Like They Just Killed My Best Friend"

By Bob Marshall

It was the first week of the disaster when I got to the message on my voice mail. His name was Fred, and he was calling from Pointe a la Hache, the hardscrabble fishing community where the road ends on the east side of the river about 60 miles south of New Orleans. He had awakened that day to read in the newspaper that his marsh had been closed to fishing because a huge tide of oil was coming its way. His voice was heavy with grief.

“Mr. Marshall, I just read the paper, and I needed to talk to someone, " he said, “so I called you because your number was at the end of the story.

“I feel like they just killed my best friend, and there’s nothing I can do about it. If I lose this marsh, I lose my fishing, maybe my duck hunting, too. That means I could lose everything I care about.

“They talkin’ about making BP pay. What good will that do me? It won’t bring back my best friend. How’d they let this happen?”

Then he hung up without leaving a number.

I thought I knew how Fred felt until five weeks later when I got a call from one of our photojournalists who had just flown the coast again.

“Bob, it’s coming through Coupa Bel and Barataria Pass, just flooding into Barataria Bay, the worst I’ve seen since this started,” he told. “Sorry.”

I felt a sudden rush of emotions; anger mixed with sadness wrapped in hopelessness. And I thought of Fred.

The Barataria estuary has been one of my best friends for most of the last 40 years. A vast wetlands complex of salt and mangrove marshes with bayous, large bays and small, and thousands of shallow ponds, it has been my office but also my refuge. Truth is, it’s been dying for decades, thanks largely to the impacts of oil and gas development onshore and off, its marshes being swallowed by open water at the rate of 25 to 35 square miles per year due to canal dredging and levees. But what has been left is still one of the nation’s most amazing ecosystems.

It’s a place producing huge volumes of specks, reds, flounder, drum, shrimp, oysters and crabs; a place where vast swarms of teal spend the winter along with enough gadwall and widgeon to make a sunrise exciting; a place when pelicans returned from the dead, where bald eagles fish, neo-tropical songbirds rest on their long trans-continental journeys, where bottlenosed dolphins come to play around our kayaks by the dozen.

It is a place that keeps me sane when the world on the dry side of the levees seems to be spinning out of control.

For the first four weeks of the oil disaster I was a resident of that famed land called Denial. When BP’s mistake was fouling other stretches of the coast, I keep telling my friend, “We’ll keep dodging bullets.”

Now the bullet was hitting the bone. And the soul.

Hundreds of commercial fishers and guides were out of business, tens of thousands of sportsmen were locked out, and the ecosystem we’re supposed to protect and pass on to the next generation is being mugged.

Like Fred, I don’t want a check from BP. I want my nation to tell me this will never happen again, that I won’t ever lose another friend to hubris and greed on the part of industry, and by neglect and malfeasance on the part of the agencies sworn to protect them.

Comments (11)

Top Rated
All Comments
from YooperJack wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

Mr. Marshall:
Do you have any insight as to why this isn't being mitigated? I watch a lot of television , covering this subject. I see stories about the skimmer boats that are waiting to be called, but aren't called. I hear about the Dutch, having expertise, offering to help, and being denied. I watched a show last night. There were several products that would either pick up this oil or render it inert. Virtually all of these people said that their offers had gone unanswered.
What gives?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

well written, Bob. Thanks for sharing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kcozad wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

grear, but terribly sad story.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kcozad wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

grear, but terribly sad story.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

Nobummer does not believe in wasting a crisis, if he had managed it well, he would not have a crisis.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ohiodeerhunter wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

The Nobama admin. is stalling all kinds of products,equipment, and people who could have had a lot of the oil cleaned up by now.
Listen to the locals,there have been no crews cleaning up oil in a lot of places, the sand barriers could have been built BEFORE ANY OIL hit the marshes, or beaches.
The Dutch, the British,have offered boom,skimmer boats, chemical dispersants,and manpower,all denied by the feds.There are many types of equipment to skim the oil off the water,many technologies to seperate the oil from the water,several products that can absorb the oil,and all have been refused by the feds and/or BP....WHY???????

ACCEPT ANY/ALL OFFERS OF HELP!!! CLEAN IT UP!!!!
Worry about who pays later,clean it up NOW!!!!

Banning all offshore drilling is only going to cause more problems...more imported oil....more lost jobs....rigs moved from the Gulf...not going to come back for a long time,as they will be drilling elsewhere!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

The only good to come out of this is maybe the idiots that voted Obummer in will see the error of their ways.
Instead of taking care of the problem his cronies are looking to see how they can make a buck by suing. Remember Rham Emmanul (misspelled on purpose) saying never waste a good crisis?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

It's amazing how some people can take any tragedy, or anything really, and turn it into an anti-Obama rant.

Do you think the people actually dealing with this are talking politics? Get your heads out of your selfish one-track-minded butts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from YooperJack wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

Shane:
Sorry to burst your bubble. To our President, this has been political since day 1. I think we're now on day 53. He's viewed this as a means to pass his carbon tax since the onset. That's why he's allowed the damage to spread.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

The reason why the oil made it to shore is simple,

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/17/keeping-up-with-the-jone...

Enough said!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from countitandone wrote 3 years 43 weeks ago

There is, without a doubt, a sense of hopelessness. Many have lost their best friend. Will the area rebound to it's former eco-system? Will it, but when?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from YooperJack wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

Mr. Marshall:
Do you have any insight as to why this isn't being mitigated? I watch a lot of television , covering this subject. I see stories about the skimmer boats that are waiting to be called, but aren't called. I hear about the Dutch, having expertise, offering to help, and being denied. I watched a show last night. There were several products that would either pick up this oil or render it inert. Virtually all of these people said that their offers had gone unanswered.
What gives?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

well written, Bob. Thanks for sharing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ohiodeerhunter wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

The Nobama admin. is stalling all kinds of products,equipment, and people who could have had a lot of the oil cleaned up by now.
Listen to the locals,there have been no crews cleaning up oil in a lot of places, the sand barriers could have been built BEFORE ANY OIL hit the marshes, or beaches.
The Dutch, the British,have offered boom,skimmer boats, chemical dispersants,and manpower,all denied by the feds.There are many types of equipment to skim the oil off the water,many technologies to seperate the oil from the water,several products that can absorb the oil,and all have been refused by the feds and/or BP....WHY???????

ACCEPT ANY/ALL OFFERS OF HELP!!! CLEAN IT UP!!!!
Worry about who pays later,clean it up NOW!!!!

Banning all offshore drilling is only going to cause more problems...more imported oil....more lost jobs....rigs moved from the Gulf...not going to come back for a long time,as they will be drilling elsewhere!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kcozad wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

grear, but terribly sad story.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kcozad wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

grear, but terribly sad story.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

Nobummer does not believe in wasting a crisis, if he had managed it well, he would not have a crisis.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

The only good to come out of this is maybe the idiots that voted Obummer in will see the error of their ways.
Instead of taking care of the problem his cronies are looking to see how they can make a buck by suing. Remember Rham Emmanul (misspelled on purpose) saying never waste a good crisis?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

It's amazing how some people can take any tragedy, or anything really, and turn it into an anti-Obama rant.

Do you think the people actually dealing with this are talking politics? Get your heads out of your selfish one-track-minded butts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

The reason why the oil made it to shore is simple,

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/17/keeping-up-with-the-jone...

Enough said!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from countitandone wrote 3 years 43 weeks ago

There is, without a doubt, a sense of hopelessness. Many have lost their best friend. Will the area rebound to it's former eco-system? Will it, but when?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from YooperJack wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

Shane:
Sorry to burst your bubble. To our President, this has been political since day 1. I think we're now on day 53. He's viewed this as a means to pass his carbon tax since the onset. That's why he's allowed the damage to spread.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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