The Gulf Coast is Littered with Broken Lives, Dashed Dreams and Depression; BP Must Make Victims Whole – Financially, Mentally and Physically


Ever wonder how former BP CEO Tony Hayward is doing now that he got his life back? Sometimes you have to wonder how Tony is faring these days back in the UK when you hear how brutally hard life has become for thousands of residents across the Gulf Coast. NPR has a gut-wrenching glimpse of just how hard things have gotten for victims of Mr. Hayward’s oil spill.

One thing is for sure: Tony wouldn’t last a day down here.

The NPR story starts with the arrival of a Feed the Children truck in Bayou La Batre (Alabama) that quickly dispenses its 800 boxes of food. We meet Aaron and Lena Hofer. He’s an Iraq War veteran who is now unemployed due to the spill. Mrs. Hofer and her two sons are living with her mom while Aaron has moved onto their broken-down boat.

NPR makes the point that researchers believe one in three Gulf residents is still experiencing trauma from the spill. The story’s headline is “Oil Well Capped, But Trauma Still Flowing.” And indeed it is still flowing, unabated.

NPR talks to Steve Barrilleaux, who coordinates adult services at the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center. He says that the spill “… was totally unexpected, and people had no sense of control or no sense of how extensive the damage was going to be — how long-lasting it was.” And, he adds, there’s still no closure.

We can only guess what this stress means to the Hofers and their kids – Aaron says living through the spill is harder than his tour of duty in Iraq.

There are many, many more tragic stories like that of the Hofers all over the Gulf Coast. Our government must ensure that BP provides adequate funding to get spill victims the counseling and mental health assistance they need. And as we see more and more cases of mental health issues, physical illnesses are certain to follow. This is going to get much worse for folks before it gets any better.

Hear the NPR audio:

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1 comment

  • It amazes me how cruel some people are. The Government did nothing to help alleviate the affects of what has occurred. BP, just like all big oil, has bought their freedom again. I was just searching for information on the organizational culture vs. organisational value of BP and what they focused on first their inner workings and culture or putting safety first and acting ethically. Seems to be that it was culture before value. Thanks for posting your article.

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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