As the world marks over a hundred days since the BP oil spill disaster, the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico has finally been stopped – at least for now. However, the struggle has only just begun for those who live and work along the coast, including many Floridians who depend on the gulf in one way or another for their livelihood.
Even those in areas that so far remain untouched by oil from the BP spill have been left reeling as tourism and other industries shrivel in response to consumer fears. In June, a Key Largo diving festival marketed to 1.5 million people and expected to bring in around 300 divers instead drew only six, according to the New York Times.
And businesses aren’t the only ones feeling the pain: several day camps have been established in Florida to help children deal with the emotional fallout from the oil spill, which can range from anxiety over their parents’ uncertain financial prospects, to broken dreams of joining a family fishing business, to the grief of seeing a cherished vacation spot tarnished by oil and tar from the spill.
Counties Want to Manage Cleanup
As in other areas affected by the oil spill, many Florida residents and business owners have expressed frustration about the way that BP has handled – or mishandled – the cleanup along the coast. Some local communities, tired of seeing official cleanup efforts bungled by red tape and a lack of coordination, would rather take matters into the own hands and simply send BP the bill. While BP has the funds, they argue, locals are more motivated to get the job done quickly so that their lives and livelihoods can start getting back to normal.
Unfortunately, stemming the flow of oil into the gulf is only the first step in a long recovery process for Florida and other states in the gulf, and the economic impact of the spill is expected to reverberate throughout the region for years to come. The situation is especially dire for Florida, which depends on tourism for much of its revenue and was hit hard by the recession before the oil spill even began. With more than 1 million residents out of work, Florida’s unemployment rate hovers near 12% – well above the national average – and experts suggest it could take a decade or more to stabilize.
If you are a consumer or a business owner in Florida who has been affected by the BP disaster, contact an experienced attorney to find out if you may have a right to receive compensation for the losses you have suffered as a result of the oil spill.