Grand Isle Celebrates an Oil-Covered Fourth

It was no holiday for some as workers continued clean-up efforts near Grand Isle, La.
On Grand Isle, it's a Fourth to forget - forget all that oil. For Kathy Mayberry, this Fourth is upsetting.

"It's sad really," she says. "It's almost like a ghost town."

Since she was a kid, Mayberry has loved the island's lifestyle. Now she worries about the future of her kids here. Reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

"We're having fun. But there is a seriousness to it. We all realize that our way of life may be changed forever," she says.

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The Spirit of '76 was alive on the water on this, the 76th day of this oil spill disaster. It's a different kind of long weekend; no time off for clean-up crews skimming in Barataria Bay.

And no time off cleaning Grand Isle's oiled beaches.

BP's brought in a mammoth machine to separate oil, wash the sand and restore these beaches.

"It is a proven performer," says BP project engineer Chris Lunsford. "It does work but they haven't used it on this scale before."

BP also paid for Grand Isle's fireworks this year. But for island residents, BP's best goodwill gesture would be to plug the gushing well.

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Locals watched fireworks wistfully.

"That's all you're hearing about. The oil. It's a tragedy," says Darlene Lozier.

Donations have fallen at Grand Isle's First Baptist Church. This spill has been a test of finances but not a test of faith.

"We don't put our hope in BP," says the pastor. "The hope is in Jesus."

Most of all today, the Mayberrys wanted to feel like any other American family celebrating the Fourth.

"We're trying to make the best of a dire situation. It's all I can do," says Mayberry.

The Coast Guard says 800 workers cleaned the beaches of tar balls Sunday. That's a productive Fourth, unless there's more oil on Monday.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.