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Shops tell of lingering oil spill impacts

By Shelby Stanger
December 21, 2010 6:45 AM

It has been over eight months since the BP disaster struck the Gulf of Mexico. We decided to check back in with three shops in Pensacola, Florida; Gulf Shores, Alabama; and Galveston,Texas to see how things are going for holiday.

 

Johnny McElroy, Blonde John’s Surf and Skate, Gulf Shores, Alabama

How is business?

It’s still down. We were hoping to have a better Christmas, but people tend to wait until the last minute to shop here. I know a lot of parents will wait two to three days before Christmas to get their kid a skateboard or skimboard.

 

How’s traffic in the area?

A lot of people got their BP checks and took off since there are no jobs. We are so seasonal here. We make all our money in summertime so most of our customers left to seek other financial opportunities where there wasn’t an oil spill.

 

Is there still oil on the beaches?

Yeah. I had a skim contest a month ago and we had some oil. This is gonna' be a lifetime thing. My son is two years old and he is gonna' have to deal with it. A kid brought in his skim board the other day and it had oil on it. People still see oil from the Exxon Valdez but that was not really in a tourist area. Wildlife was affected but this is also affecting our community.

 

Have you guys had any good surf?

Yeah. Tomorrow is supposed to be really good. That’s one thing that is good.

 

We had a pocket of oil wash up a mile and half from my store but haven’t seen it in a while. Every time the surf picks up, though some oil washes up. If there is a southwest or southeast swell, even if it only brings knee high waves, some oil will come up. Not huge patches, but the Gulf is a big body of water so stuff is still out there.

 

Have people forgotten about the spill? Are there still workers from BP in the area?

Oh yeah, They have these machines that are scooping it up and they dig four feet down and it cleans it and heats it and replaces the sand. There are still cranes and all kinds of machinery everywhere. They are still working on it so I give them credit for that.

 

Hopefully they are gone by spring because who wants to come down to the beach and lay out with a bunch of heavy machinery? Like I said before though there are a good amount of people in town still working in it (cleaning the spill). They haven’t left us high and dry.

 

See Page 2 for more from Blonde John's, Innerlight

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