As a student from the University of North Carolina, I came down to New Orleans this summer not having any idea what to expect. I thought I would see some areas still evidently recovering from Katrina, but that’s the only thing that crossed my mind. In reality, the vastness of these areas blew my mind, but I was equally, if not more, disturbed by the sudden realization that this oil spill is also destroying lives. Far too many lives.
The media really doesn’t talk much about the impact that the oil spill is having and will continue to have on the people who inhabit this area. I heard about how this spill was dangerous for our oceans and our beaches, and while not to discredit the seriousness of these, the primary issue is the danger and destruction it is bringing to the people. I don’t think America has any idea what these people in New Orleans are going through. I know I didn’t. And while I will never be able to say that I completely understand their pain, I now have seen a glimpse.
I have been humbled as I have had the privilege to speak with families who are fighting this very issue. To so many, the water is their livelihood. Not only is it a place where many find their income, but it is the place their families go for fun, where they go to escape. Some know nothing else but how to fish and some don’t feel comfortable anywhere but on the boat. These people are the most resilient people I have ever met. Katrina is still an issue for everyone here, one that they deal with every day, but at least there is a foreseeable end to recovery. This oil spill is unpredictable. People have not yet been able to consider what recovery looks like because they are still experiencing the disaster. It is this unpredictability of daily life in the midst of disaster that will stay with me and motivate me to continue to help the people of New Orleans even after I return to my safe, predictable life.