BP Gulf Oil Disaster—NAACP Investigation DAY IX– Town Hall Meeting Houma, Louisiana

In our travels through Terrebonne Parish, Carmen took several pictures of makeshift signs and other sights that characterized the impact the Oil Drilling Disaster was having on Terrebonne Parish and how folks felt about it.

Terrebonne Parish Resident Expresses Frustration With This Lawn Sign

 

Another lawn sign expresses a sentiment that many hold

Signs, radio and TV commercials, etc. display the proliferation of lawyers in the Gulf

In the Houma Town Hall meeting there was a diversity of participants and issues raised. Several members of the Houma Nation were present and shared gripping testimony of their experiences.  Other members talked about concerns about the claim process, contracting and employment opportunities, as well as health and socio-cultural challenges.

“It may be 8-10 years until we can fish again.” Percy Dardar, of the Houma Nation. Lori Ann Chaisson, also of the Houma Nation, echoed this assessment, “We can’t work. We won’t work for years to come. ”

“People think of just the Bayou, but the ripples are many including factories and stores that deal with ice, shrimpers, oysters, etc.  Many women will lose their work.” Lora Ann Chaisson of the Houma Nation in Louisiana.  Testimony from community members in Biloxi echoed the same, “Support organizations such as the commercial laundromats that have contracts with hotels are seeing significant losses. The Innkeepers association has seen a 35% – 45% decrease. The longshoremen are affected because access to the channel is limited and the engines that are water cooled cannot go through oil-infested waters. The shuckers, ice men, etc…..a lot of minorities are involved in these industries.

v  Houma Chief Elect Tom Dardar expressed concern for the lost vocations for older persons, for whom fishing has been their lives for decades, who do not have other choices.  “We must understand the alternatives. Who will teach us the trades?”  Lora Ann Chaisson agreed, “Business down 50%. My dad is 74 years old. What is he supposed to do? How are we going to train older people?”

“I don’t want to have to leave because you came and destroyed my land. Our culture is identified through the land. The land identifies us.”—Houma Nation Chief Elect, Tom Dardar. “We will come out on the other side. But what will we become?”

“Parents stressed over their children. What will happen to the kids?”—Lori Ann Chaisson “Kids need to understand. Children are upset because parents are upset.”—Chief Dardar 

v  A nurse at the Town Hall meeting in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana expressed her concern that “the medical community does not know what we are treating, what we are looking for, and what the possible illnesses and treatments are out there. Health clinics in affected and soon-to-be affected areas are a critical need.”

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