BP and the US government are strangling the life out of these people, their communities, and a way of life.
PORT SULPHUR, La. — Even before the Gulf oil spill, Jennifer Reddick was just getting by, living paycheck to paycheck as she tried to support six children on the $400 a week she made working part time as a deckhand and shrimp net maker.This makes the holidays and the new year all the more difficult. What will the new year bring to the lives of these people?
Then BP's well blew out off the coast of Louisiana, scaring away tourists and shutting down fishing. Now she has no work and no money to buy her children toys or new clothes this Christmas. Charities are providing what they can, but it's hard for Reddick to take handouts.
"It was never easy before, but we could make it," said Reddick, 30, of Buris, a small fishing town along the Mississippi River. "I couldn't even afford Christmas this year for the kids."
For many people along the Gulf Coast, there won't be much holiday cheer this Christmas.
It's been more than five months since the well was finally capped after spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf. Many shrimpers and oystermen are catching and selling only a fraction of previous hauls. Business owners who saw a summer of lost revenue are still struggling to pay their bills, and many had to lay off workers to make it through the slow winter months.
The Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana has seen requests for help double. Many are coming from people who had never asked for assistance before.
"Even after Katrina, it wasn't like this," said Joannie Hughes, who along with Vickie Perrin has fanned out across the region to deliver Christmas dinners and toys to 112 families.
Perrin said the economic effect is just starting to ripple through communities, from fishermen to grocery stores and restaurants.
"It's like throwing a pebble into a pond. And we're only on the first few ripples," she said.
The rest is here.
And so it goes.