Town where Katrina made landfall now braces for BP oil spill
Waveland, Miss., still bears the marks of Katrina in trailers, unfinished construction, and a closed waterpark. Now, the BP oil spill is threatening its coast. Residents wonder if the town can survive.
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“He knows our people have been through a tremendous amount these last four to five years,” says Longo. “It’s good to know he’s been thinking of us in advance.”
The precursors of the oil spill are already arriving. On Sunday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association closed all recreational and commercial fishing between the mouth of the Mississippi River and Florida’s Pensacola Bay.
It is a sacrifice many fisherman are unlikely to be able to sustain.
“Fishermen tend to not be rich people. They live week to week,” says Kathy Scott, an administrator for Saint Clare Catholic Church, which is being rebuilt behind its former site, which Katrina flattened.
“If Katrina was big, God is bigger,” reads the church’s sign facing the water.
A town in the balance
Katrina closed schools in Waveland for a time, but it actually made the town younger, in the end. The majority of residents who did not return were seniors. But resident Regina Decrevel wonders what sort future the town can have when it treats its children to this.
“The kids are like, ‘What are we going to do now? We can’t live here,’ ” she says.
Alexander Puffer agrees. A college student, he’s returned home to Waveland to visit.
“I don’t plan on living here,” he says. “The view might be ruined for pretty much indefinitely.”
Some dead animals, such as birds and sea turtles, have already been sighted on Waveland’s shore. Billy Barfield, a retired US Army Ranger who is vacationing in Waveland from his home in Wilmington, N.C., says the setting reminds him too much of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, where his unit spent 40 days helping in the recovery efforts.
He takes a long pause after describing the tasks – washing oil-slicked animals and pulling dead otters, seals, and birds out of the water to bag them.
“I hated it. I really did,” he says. “I’d hate to see it happen here.”