Beyond hope, this tug remains a reminder of the devastation hurricane Katrina brought.
Two buildings, newly constructed to weather future storms. The one above is a private residence, the one below is a school.
The two buildings above were on the long stretch of highway leading to Venice, the "end of the world" as one DNR officer called it. This town is also the staging ground for the oil clean-up. Our intention was to get to the beach areas and see what was happening with the current clean-up operations. Not knowing the area, however, we found ourself stuck inland, surrounded by water we just couldn't get to. The road ends at the Delta National Wildlife Refuge, the convergence of the Mississippi River, multiple tributaries, Breton Sound, and finally the Gulf of Mexico.
We saw a number of species of wildlife on our drive, though not in the numbers you would normally expect to see in a refuge area. This we expected, based on reports of how the oil "spill" has impacted the area.
The people we saw are working hard. Many fishermen are now carrying booms and other clean up materials to areas in need. There are many fishing boats moored at the docks, and though the fishing ban has been lifted, it's just catch-and-release fishing allowed. The main source of income is still gone for many. The people on these outlying areas have been given a one-two punch - rebuilding from Katrina, then loss of income due to the oil catastrophe. But they're keeping the faith and working hard to get on with life as best they can.
The DNR officer we talked to said that going out on the water, in areas normally teaming with wildlife, it felt rather like a Stephen King novel - eerie silence where once the sound of birds was almost deafening. However, he also indicated this was not all bad, as these birds were finding other areas to feed and nest in. Yes, there has been great loss and it will probably continue, but the wildlife is actually adapting and moving elsewhere. Hopefully to return home when all is well again.
Fishing vessel readying to carry booms (yellow) and other clean up materials out to affected areas.
We never did make it to beach area, so didn't have the opportunity to see the oil damage first hand, though we passed boats which appeared to have an oil residue on the hull. This part of our trip was a lesson, however, in what a community can do when forced into a devastating situation. Reminders of what's important in life, as well. We can replace "things," but this story is deeper than what we scratched on the surface.
Pull together and help others. There's a great deal of satisfaction in the journey.