Tears flow for oil

As the US celebrates Independence Day,

    In the United States it's the Fourth of July national holiday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence - America's birthday in other words!
    Motoring organisations estimate 35 million Americans will travel this weekend - seventeen per cent up on last year and that's just people on the roads.
    Many families will barbecue, watch a parade or go to a traditional 4th of July fireworks display.
    In the Gulf of Mexico it is a most unusual holiday with oil still gushing and the clean-up operation only just restarting after the first hurricane of the season.
    Little to celebrate

    In Louisiana's only major beach resort of Grand Isle there's little to celebrate this year as the oil spill means there are hardly any tourists this year and large parts of the town's economy have come to a stand still.
    Grand Isle can seem a little bleak in the bad weather we have today. Dark heavy clouds and driving rain have brought the beach clean-up teams off the beach again. Normally, however, around the 4th of July holiday fishermen and their families crowd down on the sand.
    Lettie Jambon, who was born and bred here, remembers the beaches of Grand Isle without the oil.
    "We'd go out on the beach, put out a tent and the lawn chairs and the music and the kids we'd just let the kids run all over on the beach and in the surf and you'd have these people surf-fishing and not too far up the beach or down the beach you'd have people crabbing."
    There are no traditional beach front hotels in Grand Isle.  Most visitors rent large houses - "Camps" - as the locals call them.

    They stretch for many kilometres along the town's only main road.
    This year many "Camps" have been rented to clean-up crews and the US military.
    No visitors

    Ironically in Louisiana as a whole tourism is going through somewhat of a boom - according to the state's department of tourism that's because people are going to New Orleans for the culture - while here at Grand Isle the oil means the flow of visitors has, well, all but stopped.
    From May until August there are fishing rodeos or competitions virtually every weekend. The biggest and longest running, the Tarpon International established in 1928, attracts 20,000 people over a weekend in July.
    BP's oil spill means that competition has been cancelled for only the second time in its history. The first time was a hurricane.
    Grand Isle's restaurants and small lodgings are benefitting from the business brought by all the clean-up crews but for people who make a living through fishing, like Cristian Delano, these are frightening times.
    Cristian is particularly upset today - fighting back the tears - because for the first time he's just spotted oil in the water near his home. 
    "Know this! Everything's being stripped from us. If BP doesn't get out of the way and stop all this bureaucratic bull and red tape then we're not going to exist ...  I'm going to have friends that end up killing themselves because of this. They can't pay their bills. They can't fish. They can't take care of their families. You're not a real man if you can't take care of the ones you're supposed to protect ... to love."
    The people of Grand Isle have lived through hard times before ... not least the crippling damage left by Hurricane Katrina five years ago.
    Cristian and many other residents are praying they can reclaim their water and beaches before the next 4th of July comes around.


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