With the upcoming five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (August 29), the Gulf Coast is bracing for another media onslaught.
Network anchors all have their tickets (each competing for turf with Anderson Cooper along New Orleans’s Riverwalk), CNN is broadcasting a two-part special (“New Orleans Rising”) and next Monday/Tuesday HBO will air Spike Lee’s four-hour documentary, “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.”
As if the place hadn’t gotten enough attention during the past four-plus months, the Gulf States can’t stay out of the news these days, which is a good thing. Given the continuing debate over just how much oil is still stewing in the ocean it deserves to be in the headlines for a long time to come.
As I predicted a few days ago, every day seems to bring a new estimate on just how much of the oil spewed by BP is still out there. The statistics grow evermore confusing. The government says “74 percent of the oil is gone.” A University of Georgia team claims “79 percent is still there.” And today a report in Science – which the Times calls “the most ambitious paper to emerge yet” – casts grave doubt on the government stats and suggests there is a huge plume of oil two miles long floating beneath the surface, which will pose problems for the ocean, wildlife and man for months, possibly years, to come.
While that chatter dominates Gulf-related headlines, I think now is an appropriate time to reflect on all the other bad shit impacting the region on top of the multi-million gallons of crude that were recklessly dumped into it.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion and sinking was one of two sizable man-made disasters that will have long-lasting impact on Louisiana shores. The other goes back to 1927, when man (i.e. the Army Corps of Engineers) began his failed attempt to “control” the Mississippi River. The twin debacles, combined with a historically corrupt and inattentive state government, has assured that despite the cantankerous quality of life that makes the state the most unique of all fifty is also treated like America’s toilet bowl.
(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)