President Obama arrived on Grand Isle, Louisiana moments ago. His motorcade came zipping through the main road along the beach. Once sounds of helicopters and police sirens were audible, almost the whole restaurant along the road emptied to catch a glimpse of the 40mph+ motorcade.
Despite the disaster, residents here are excited about Obama’s visit. A group of kids on a golf cart drove by earlier screaming, "Obama’s here!" (He wasn’t yet.) Some little girls set up a lemonade stand hoping for a visit from Obama. Dozens of people are braving the sun and 90 degree heat hoping to see the motorcade on its way out of town.
Raleigh Leseigne, an oyster fisherman, said he doesn’t blame Obama for the response so far. He’s mad at BP because the oyster bed that’s been in his family’s name for more than 100 years is now completely covered in oil, and the mud will be oiled for at least the next 10 years. "Obama is one man, he can’t fix the country in a year," said Raleigh. "It’s Bush I blame for selling this country to the oil companies."
Ahead of Obama’s visit to this seven-mile-long island, BP brought in at least 100 additional cleanup workers from other areas. Eight school buses were parked at the foot of the bridge into town this morning, with dozens of cleanup workers milling about the bait shop and deli. They all wore distinct clothing from the workers who have been cleaning up the island this week.
According to Grand Isle residents who were at the foot of the island, the additional workers hit the beaches right before the motorcade came through with their plastic suits on; when the motorcade passed, the workers returned to the shaded tent. Cleanup theater at its finest.
Earlier this week, maybe two dozen people were cleaning the beaches. It’s easily quadruple that today. Anyone want to guess what it’ll be tomorrow?
Obama’s about to give his remarks at the very eastern end of Grand Isle, behind the security of the Coast Guard complex. His helicopter landed at Port Fourchon, the next town up on Highway One, and he had a brief press event with the Parrish president. From the pool report:
Potus began by introducing the president of the parish and said, "This parish has been as effective as any in coordinating and working to make sure they rerspond quickly."
"You’ve got about seven miles here where boom has been laid," he said, motioning to what looked like a line of cheerleader pom-poms strung together.
He squatted and picked up tar balls, but the gentle surf obscured his words. What the booms don’t soak up will be picked up manually. No sign of oil besides those. Yet.
The parish president and Thad Allen said they attribute all the small balls to BP though she acknowledged that tar balls are common along the beaches even in good times, tho not so many.
Cleanup theater – oil’s not hitting the beaches in Port Fourchon. But it is all over the marshes, beyond the bridge where a police car is parked across both lanes, lights on, blocking access.
Where Obama is on Grand Isle, there’s again no oil. It’s on literally the opposite end, where think pools of oil and water with oil sheens still sit. The question is if this will be the extent of Obama’s visit, or if he takes the time to at least do an aerial overview of the real damage, if not a boat tour.
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