Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Final Act -- Those Most Hurt By The BP Oil Spill

The reporter quickly learned the request for tax records poses a serious challenge to some residents of close-knit fishing communities on the swampy edges of southeastern Louisiana, which for generations have harbored self-reliant nonconformists who don't pay much heed to everyday rules and regulations.

"We have our own little world, and the whole world is invading it right now," said Erwin Menesses, 43, who specializes in sewing and repairing fishing nets and talks on the record to news folks upon request. "You are not going to find our legacy in the paperwork they are asking us to produce. It's not there."

BP officials said that more than 25,000 claims had been submitted and that more than 12,000 payments totaling about $36 million had been sent to people facing financial ruin. As part of an effort to resolve disputes, BP on Wednesday said it would appoint an independent mediator to help review and process claims.

Wayne Landry, council chairman for St. Bernard Parish, worried that an undetermined number of people from fishing outposts would be overlooked because BP and "the bean counters in the Internal Revenue Service do not deal with culture or heritage; they deal with numbers." 



This concludes the three-act play. Versions of it, sequels and spin-offs will be replayed for years to come. Maybe I am overwhelmingly optimistic. Already we have forgotten Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and if it were not for a Mosque planned to be built two blocks away, the Ground Zero site of 9/11.

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