Oil Leak Creating Massive Social Impacts On Small Towns

By: Tara Herrschaft, WCTV6
By: Tara Herrschaft, WCTV6

We've seen the devastating effects this massive oil leak is having on our environment, but this man-made disaster is also impacting social aspects of coastal towns. And experts say this is just the beginning especially for small towns along the northern Gulf Coast.

The small coastal town of Apalachicola is bustling with people. The water is still clear and the seafood is still delicious. But the people living here know all that could change just as quickly as the currents. And the thought of toxic goo destroying their slice of paradise and way of life is almost too much to bear.

"These are lives and people's kids that have been raised doing this. And there's nothing else that they know to do. So it's heart wrenching. It makes you want to cry." Walter Ward, a shrimper, says business was just starting to really pick up, but now with oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico the seafood industry is at stake.

"The impact on the public, it's really bad. Everybody's so worried about how, what's going to happen to their future, you know, five years from now." William Carter assisted with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and saw the mental health issues firsthand.

Carter is now traveling along the Gulf Coast helping with training. He says while these people along the Forgotten Coast are used to bouncing back after hurricanes, right now the biggest fear they're facing is the unknown. "Here we don't know when the end is. And that creates a high level and I think that fear rolls into the possibilities of drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, and it can even go so far as suicide."

But right now folks like Ward are trying to stay positive and are thankful they haven't seen the black sludge yet. "We've been really fortunate that we haven't seen lots of oil, but I'm sure we're bound to see it."

William Carter says these mental health problems need to be addressed now and hopes local officials can develop a forum. He says years down the road when money and resources may be lacking is when people will really need assistance.

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  • by Nikki Location: Panama City Beach on Jun 28, 2010 at 06:46 AM
    BP should be required to continue to offer and pay for those classes so that locals are able to work to protect their waterways that they know so well, unlike outsiders. It is pathetic how often people swoop in to take advantage of other people's hardships. We have to demand strong leadership at every level of government, including the adoption of clean energy policy, so we are no longer hostages to oil companies. Investment in alternative energy can create really good jobs in this country.
  • by Malinda Location: Eastpoint,Fl on Jun 27, 2010 at 01:56 PM
    One of the hardest and most aggravating things for the locals to understand: Is how outsiders came in and took classes that was unannounced for VOO program and are now working our waterways. Now they are saying slots have been filled and there are no more classes at this time. So, if the bay shuts down our locals that did not get into this program will have nothing and lose EVERYTHING!
  • by Jean on Jun 27, 2010 at 12:41 PM
    SO SAD....
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