Voice of the Gulf-12 Months Post Oil Drilling Disaster–Intro Blog

In May of last year, NAACP national staff and Gulf leadership in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi worked together to conduct an investigation on the impact of the Gulf Oil Drilling Disaster and the needs of Gulf communities arising from the disaster. From this investigation, our agenda of advocacy and action was formed, based on our findings, which included 14 recommendations of actions that should be taken to remedy the challenges faced by Gulf communities.

Over the last year, the NAACP has engaged BP in seeking to secure remedies for those persons and communities detrimentally affected by the Oil Spill.  Working in consultation with the NAACP leadership in the Gulf states, we brokered multiple meetings with BP officials, including a meeting on August 3rd where NAACP senior staff members met with BP senior staff members to advocate for minority contract inclusion in the remediation efforts, worker safety/protection, a more effective claims process, an explanation of the disproportionate placement of oil disaster waste in African American communities,  and financial support for community based organizations that are serving the needs of Gulf communities. Subsequent to these meetings, we had progressive discussions regarding engagement of HBCUs in research initiatives, though the long promised RFP has yet to materialize. BP also shared data on minority contracting which revealed significantly low number of contracts to businesses led by people of color, as compared to the total.

Now, one year after the disaster, in partnership with the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health with its rich history of work and relationships in the Gulf including providing grant support to over 250 organizations throughout the Gulf region, we have completed a follow up investigation through interviews with 40+ community members, including community organizers, as well as conducting a literature review of area statistics on employment, business profit-loss, mental and physical health issues, etc., to assess to what extent reforms have been made in response/recovery efforts. The follow up report revealed persistent gaps in the response and recovery system. The suffering of many has stayed the same or worsened significantly. Systems such as the claims process and health care system have failed Gulf residents and community based organizations are in a vice of increased demand and decreased donations.

As you’ll read, we are calling for systems reform with recommendations including: Gulf Coast Claims Facility must overhaul its processes to be more effective in delivering restitution; BP must invest in restoring industries that were impacted by the disaster as well as supporting new industries to enhance economic revitalization; BP must also support physical and mental health care services as well as community based organizations, and more!   This blog will feature excerpts from the “My Name is 6508799” State of the Gulf, One Year After the Oil Drilling Disaster  Investigation and will include video interviews from affected community members and organizations that represent the communities of the Gulf.

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