Last week the state of Louisiana made their third request asking BP for help to cover costs for the mental health care treatment of Gulf residents who have been affected by the oil spill. They have given BP a deadline of tomorrow to respond as that is when their funds will run out. This is not good because people are at their breaking point. Some have already broken:
Two weeks after he was hired by BP to help with the oil spill cleanup, William Allen Kruse killed himself. The 55-year-old charter boat captain shot himself in the head Wednesday morning as he prepared to spend another day skimming oil off the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, clearing the spill that threatened to destroy his livelihood and community.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind, the oil spill was the cause of this,” Tom Ard, who fished alongside Kruse for 25 years.
He’s not alone:
“He wasn’t any more aggravated with the whole situation than any of the rest of us,” Bell said. “I hate to say it, but I’m surprised something like this hasn’t already happened.”
Ard described a community under a severe amount of stress that doesn’t know what will become of businesses that have been in families for generations. “This is something that you put your whole life and soul into. You’ve done it for 25 years. Just the thought of all that gone, when it’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything wrong … that’s a lot of stress,” he said.
This suicide happened at the end of June and yet no response from BP regarding mental health funding. When “Over 40% of the population living within ten miles of the coast had experienced some direct exposure to the oil spill” things get ugly:
The mayor of Bayou La Batre, Ala., has reported that calls of domestic violence there have tripled. In Chauvin, La., a man sits catatonic in front of CNN, while his friend planted a sign saying “Our Way of Life: It’s Oil Gone.”
Here’s are residents of Grand Isle at a town hall meeting last week understandably pissed:
A report was released yesterday by the National Center of Disaster Preparedness from the Mailman school of Public Health at Columbia University on the impact of the oil spill on children and families. Other key findings:
- Over one-third of parents reported that their children had experienced either physical symptoms or mental health distress as a consequence of the oil spill.
- One in five households has seen their income decrease as a result of the oil spill, and eight percent have lost jobs. Only five percent of coastal residents reported having received any cash or gift cards from BP, although over fifteen percent believe they may be eligible for compensation from BP for health consequences of the spill.
- Over one-quarter of coastal residents think they may have to move from the area because of the oil spill.
- Much the way Hurricane Katrina had its greatest effect on those populations with the fewest economic resources, the Deepwater oil spill has also had its greatest impact among those with the least. Coastal residents earning less than $25,000 annual household income were more likely to report having lost income than those earning more, more likely to think they would have to move, more likely to report an effect on children’s ability to play on the coast or in the Gulf waters, and more likely to report physical and mental health effects among their children.
Yes, lest BP forget the children:
I’ll leave it with someone who knows what they’re talking about:
J. Steven Picou peers into the future. The environmental sociologist has spent decades studying the human impact of man-made or technological disasters. For 21 years, he’s tracked the residents of Cordova, Alaska, whose community was deeply wounded by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. And while every disaster and every community is different, he can’t ignore the signs of what’s to come.
“It’s like the table is set,” he says. “And now we’re going to be served with this 15- to 20-year-course meal of problems.”
Among the woes to be dished out: depression, marital problems, family violence, crime, substance abuse and suicides.
Sadly, the problems are just beginning.
HEALTH INFORMATION LINE! Our friends at ProjectGulfImpact.org have created a Health Information Line to collect and provide around the clock service and reporting for Gulf residents. Gulf residents can leave messages relevant to reporting a health situation in the Gulf and people from around the world are invited to give offers of medical aid, provide essential information or be involved in the health and wellness efforts surround the Gulf crisis. Callers are not required to leave any personally identifiable information and can remain anonymous.
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