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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