NOLA: Day eight. Lafitte.

Today Chris and I went south to Lafitte, La. which is the last car-accessible populated area along the bayou before one reaches Barataria Bay, north of Grand Isle.

This southern part of the state is still attempting to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Docks, buildings, vehicles and even boats are frozen in a post-Katrina state where their owners just gave up on the attempt to recover. The BP oil spill is yet another blow to the region and who knows how much recovery we’ll see completed five years from now.

Right now, Lafitte is a bit like a ghost town if you ask me. Almost every dock had shrimp and fishing boats tied up. Nothing that may seem out of the ordinary to a tourist or an out-of-towner, but the community lives on commercial fishing. The boats tied up are a sign of trouble in the industry. On a normal day, they would all be out fishing and making money.

The town seemed almost abandoned aside from workers at convenience stores and gas stations. Many locals have taken up employment working with clean-up crews and though they are out during the day, they aren’t on their boats. The boat rental businesses looked completely closed up. It would have probably been easier to buy a boat today than attempt to rent one. And there were plenty for sale.

After driving around we found one of the sub-contracted companies working for BP doing cleanup. In a parking lot beside the water there was a pontoon boat that had been hauled out of the water on a trailer. The water line was stained with thick tar the whole way around the boat. This is one of those craft that has a pump on it with operators sucking tar off the surface of the water out in the bay. Beside the boat was a pair of trailers loaded down with small, yellow oil booms.

These are segmented in five-foot sections to be able to make tighter curves inside the narrow inlets and hug the edges of the bayou. Although the oil itself hadn’t begun to wash up in Lafitte with the tide or wind, it was surely being carried in very small amounts on the hulls of boats coming and going to aid in oil removal. They were preparing for its arrival with the booms staged at the water’s edge.

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