Ongoing Disaster for Gulf Coast Communities

April 19, 2011  |  

(The Root) — Some members of Kenner Calvary Baptist Church in Metairie, La., used to make a hearty living along the Gulf of Mexico coast selling homemade gumbo and fried fish to tourists, making beds at once-bustling hotels and washing dishes at teeming restaurants. In turn, they made healthy donations at church on Sunday.  But then their way of living was wiped out when the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil-drilling rig spewed untold amounts of oil into the Gulf and along the coasts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi exactly one year ago, causing 11 deaths and countless personal injury in one of the world’s largest environmental catastrophes.

The oil company BP, which took responsibility for cleaning up the disaster, set up a $20 billion spill-recovery fund to help business owners and workers recover losses. But claimants are complaining that the agency charged by the Obama administration and BP with disseminating payouts — the Gulf Coast Claims Facility — has been slow to pay, which has impeded recovery, dramatically impacting their quality of life.  Now, instead of tithing, once-proud members of Kenner Calvary Baptist Church have been forced to extend their hands for donations to help pay the rent and utility bills and to put food on the table, according to the pastor, the Rev. James E. Turner. The economy of Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, relies heavily on the fishing and seafood industries.

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