Gulf community looks forward, hopes for business

Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle, center, speaks at a news conference held to recognize the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Grand Isle, La., Wednesday, April 20, 2011. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Oil spill anniversary news conference
Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle, center, speaks at a news conference held to recognize the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Grand Isle, La., Wednesday, April 20, 2011.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

GRAND ISLE, La. - So here we are a year later in the Gulf, on the one-year anniversary of BP's spill. Anyone affected by that disaster, particularly people living and working in the spill zone, will spend today swapping stories of their shared drama and taking stock of how far their recovery still has to go.

Disaster in the Gulf: One Year Later

Our CBS News team spent most of last summer on Grand Isle, Louisiana. Last May 20th, this seven-mile barrier island was the first populated place spilled oil reached, and the same day we arrived there. I remember standing with Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle on the beach that say, watching the first ribbons of oil hit the beach, when he suddenly starting crying. He knew it was big trouble.

Oil spill: looking back on 100 days of crude

I ran into Camardelle again this morning, just after daybreak at the Bridgeside Marina. Last summer, the only boats motoring in and out of the marina had been contracted by BP for the cleanup. The sight and smell of oil was everywhere. Today the marina was clean but empty, and Camardelle was upbeat and smiling, but reflective.

Gulf oil rig's survivors struggle one year later

Over the last year, he has been to the White House a half-dozen times to update President Obama on the recovery's progress and to plead the case for federal help. Almost every day he talks to someone at BP, reminding them of their pledge to clean up the mess and undo the impact of this preventable disaster. No one on the island, including Camardelle, knows whether the tourists and fishermen will come back here this summer.

Grand Isle's just one spill-weary Gulf community among many. Today they'll all look back at this stressful year, and wonder how much longer it will take before they no longer live under the shadow and stain of the worst oil spill in history.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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