Gulf Coast Kids Devastated by Oil Spill

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Kids who live on the Gulf Coast tell Katie Couric about their lives after the oil spill.
CBS

There are very strong feelings all over the country about the oil disaster.

In a new CBS News poll, 41 percent of Americans say they're bothered by it and 56 percent say they're downright angry. On the Gulf Coast more than half say they're hurting a lot.

Nearly two out of three on the Gulf Coast say they've been personally affected by the spill either directly or indirectly. It's not just adults but kids, too.

Complete Coverage: Disaster in the Gulf

"I'm going tell you there's no other place in the world like this place right here," says 18-year-old Dylan Becnel. "No other place in the world. It may disappear."

For Dylan and his 14-year-old brother Austin, the Gulf Coast is in their blood reports CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric.

"I'm always on the water," says Austin. "All I do is hunt and fish. That's my life. And if I wouldn't be able to do that, I don't know what would happen. I mean, that's what keeps me out of trouble is the hunting and the fishing."

And the family business is citrus groves that they've owned for seven generations. It depends on the water, too.

"Knowing that that oil is going come in there and kill everything that's in [the Gulf]," says Dylan, "that's just hard to stomach."

Robin Drury's dad was a shrimp boat captain. Now he cleans up oil for BP.

"He loves to shrimp," says Drury. "He's been doing that all his life. And he just doesn't…he doesn't act the same. That's kind of sad."

Others worry what may be around the corner.

I'm sort of scared," says Julia Trahan. "We're losing most of our marsh. And then our marsh sort of saves us from having a hurricane." She adds, "If we were to have a hurricane then most of all of our homes would be gone."

Julia and her brother John Marc already lost a home because of hurricane Katrina.

"It's a big reality check," says John Marc. "Once you think it's all better from Katrina, everything's just starting… Everything was just starting to really make a big turn. Everything was getting better." He adds, "And then boom."

Dr. Irwin Redlener of Columbia University is assessing the psychological damage and helping to provide resources for this twice-battered community. This latest disaster is a slow and painful one.

"The impact, the sadness, depression and anxiety is very, very different," says Redlener. "This is probably more like it was during the dust bowl in the 1930s when people had to literally leave their homes and never come back. For children, this kind of unsettled uncertainty is extremely anxiety producing."

Leaving behind their heritage, their culture, their lives, that's something these kids hope they'll never have to do.

Dylan has a message for BP CEO Tony Hayward.

"I think what he said was he wants his life back, if I heard right," says Dylan. "Well, we want our lives back. We don't get to do any of the fun things that we used to do."

And more fallout from the spill according to the executive director of the Plaquemines Parish Care Center: There's been an increase in domestic violence and in substance abuse among adults.

More on the oil spill:

Oil Rig Worker: Blowout Preventer was Leaking
Relief Well Drilling "Business as Usual"
Nations Rethink Drilling Due to BP Spill
Oil Spill Taking a Toll on Fla. Tourism
BP's Worst-Case Estimate Was 4.2M Gallons a Day
Shelby: Hayward Must Go
Ken Feinberg: Oil Spill "Pay Czar"