Blog : June 2010
Gulf journals: Where is everybody? »



Like a scene from a classic "Twilight Zone" episode, the Gulf Coast city looked like a ghost town in the middle of vacation season. No tourists, no activity.

Jonathan Nateghi-Asli visited oil-soaked Grand Isle, Louisiana, on June 23 after doing Hurricane Katrina relief work in New Orleans with seven teens and two adults from his church in tow. The Washington-area resident has made the trip down about three times per year since October 2005, shortly after the storm came. This time, they came to work on a local church.

After all that labor, he says the group used their day off to visit what was, in his words, "another disaster in the making." The scene was familiar and maybe even a bit unsettling.

"The town of Grand Isle is very desolate," he described. "It reminds me of what New Orleans looked like after Katrina. Lots of military vehicles parked; no damage to homes, but very quiet and serene. This town should be very busy this time of year."

The group walked on the pier in Grand Isle State Park and drove through the town. Nateghi-Asli saw booms on the water and rental signs up on homes, but no people except for workers in tents, sitting and waiting to be deployed. For the most part, he and his church group were the only ones around. Fishing boats stayed tied up in canals, and there appeared to be a layer of oil on the water and in the scent of the air. All was still and quiet.  "You could hear the water and lots of thunder rumbling as there were storms rolling in off the Gulf," he said. "The waves crashed and there was always a sheen right along the water and sand edge."

Nateghi-Asli wondered how ordinary citizens felt about handling dual crises in one state. When curiosity got to him and he posed this question to the people he met along the way in Louisiana, he got two very different kinds of responses: that drilling is important for the economy, and that wetlands are endangered by this method of getting fuel. Nateghi-Asli says these opposing viewpoints are at the crux of the debate and there may be no easy solution.

"It is a double-edged sword because either way it is affecting the people and the economy."

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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nsaidi
// June 30, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster
Gulf journals: 'I know we are all guilty' »

On the pristine white beaches of Seaside, Florida, a line of people stretches as far as the eye can see. Facing the clear, turquoise waves that crash at their feet, each person clasps the outstretched hand of the person next to them. They’re part of a movement called Hands across the Sand, a campaign to stop offshore oil drilling.

 

At exactly noon on June 26, people on beaches across the United States performed the same simple act for 15 minutes to show their opposition to drilling. The Hands across the Sand movement began in February, with a group of Floridians protesting a proposed end to an oil drilling ban in the waters around the state. But after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it took on a new life. Groups in California, Connecticut, Florida, and every other state participated in Saturday's event. Even in landlocked states, supporters held hands at designated areas in cities. There were about 700 gathering spots in all.

 

“The founder of Hands across the Sand is a local restaurant owner in my town who is very passionate about stopping offshore drilling,” explained Shelly Swanger of Seaside, who attended the event. “After what happened in the Gulf, his movement really gained support.”

 

The mucky tar balls and smelly oil haven’t yet sullied the picturesque Seaside beaches. But residents have seen the devastation in nearby communities like Pensacola, and Swanger says there was a spirit of unity in the atmosphere at the beach on Saturday, a sense that the community must come together to protect their beautiful home.

 

“The mood was one of community support for keeping our beautiful white beaches and clear blue water clean so that we are all able to enjoy this wonderful place for generations to come,” she said.

 

“I know we are all guilty of using oil,” she added. “I just wish that people could see what is at risk by continuing to deepwater drill in the Gulf of Mexico. There has to be a better way.”

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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rachel8
// June 28, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
Gulf journals: Young girls grasp oil disaster »

 

Crouching in the sand, eight-year-old Anna Jacobs gazes at tar balls while holding her head in her small hands. It is only now that she and her two sisters begin to grasp the magnitude of the oil disaster.

 

Anna, Abby, 10, and Amelia, 4, have grown up scampering along the white sands of Pensacola Beach, Florida. When they heard reports that a deluge of oil had landed on their beach Wednesday morning, the family crossed the street to see the damage.

 

What the Jacobs family saw was a part of the nine-mile swath of oil covering their beloved beach. It is the largest amount of oil to hit Florida’s coast yet.

 

The girls haven’t really understood why they hadn’t been allowed in the water for the past five weeks until they saw the oil-covered beach, says their mom, Kim Jacobs. “They didn’t say much, it was just the way they looked,” she said.

 

To the girls, the water had been pristine and inviting just over a month ago, even though the beach air was tainted with the smell of oil. Kim let her girls wet their feet in the water.

 

When they got home, Kim’s husband said, “You smell like fuel. Go take a shower.” From that point on, the girls were not allowed in water, not even their feet, she said.

 

The strong waft of oil is something the family’s had to get used to. While they’ve lived in their coastal home for 14 years, they worry oil fumes and potential health effects may force them out.

 

“Mommy and Daddy are looking to move somewhere else,” Kim tells her girls. “If we can smell the oil and it’s not going away, we don’t think it’s good for your health and we might move.”

 

Kim says she’s started looking at houses online but hasn’t contacted a realtor yet. She and her husband don’t want to uproot their family until they are sure of the long-term impact.

 

“We’re in a holding pattern,” she said. “We just want to be ready. ... We live on the beach to enjoy it. If you can’t enjoy it, why live there?”

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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zdan
// June 25, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster, stories
iPhone 4 release causes frenzy »

 

On Thursday, Apple lovers got their hands on the new iPhone 4. iReporters captured videos and photos of quarter-mile long lines and documented the excitement of opening a new gadget.

 

Superstar iReporter ChrisMorrow took advantage of the HD capabilities on the new iPhone 4 to capture a showdown between the release of the iPhone 4 and the opening of a new Microsoft store in a shopping mall in San Diego, California.

 

In New York City, fusco2223 captured the frenzy surrounding the new iPhone in a time-lapse video that follows a line in front of an Apple store stretching a quarter mile.

 

By far one of our coolest submissions came from first-time iReporter starkdesign. Inspired by Sesame Street videos he watched as a kid, he crafted a fun and hilarious video that captures the excitement techies feel when they get a new gadget.

 

But, despite all the enthusiasm, the new iPhone has some kinks. Customers have reported problems with dropped calls when the phone is held on its metal sides. Other owners have complained about a yellow tint on the display screen.

 

But the overall message from our iReporters has been the same. They love the new phone.

 

TCKnight shot a video review of the new gadget on his iPhone 4, using one of the newest features -- the front-facing camera. He said that the flash on the camera changes everything. “Finally I can use my phone as a quality camera, too.”

 

Starkdesign also raved about the phone’s new capabilities. “I’m a graphic designer so I pay special attention to screen resolution and quality of images,” he said.  “Holding it next to my iPhone 3GS, it’s amazing,” he said. “I love it.”

 

If you bought the iPhone 4, we want to hear from you. How long did you have to wait to get the new iPhone? Have you had any problems or was it everything you imagined? Share your experiences with us here.

Posted by: jsarverCNN // June 25, 2010
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Posted in: stories
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable talk, an informal discussion about what's going on at CNN iReport.

 

We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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davidw
// June 24, 2010
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Posted in: community
Gulf journals: 'Someone's got to do it' »

 

Every morning between 5:30 and 6:00, Gregg Hall goes for a three-mile run on Pensacola Beach. Hall runs right on the coastline to be close to this favorite thing – the ocean. But yesterday, the lifelong Florida resident was too depressed to run.

 

Overnight, oil and tar had washed ashore, covering the sandy-white beach. “This morning was the worst I have seen – the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking walk on the beach in my entire life,” Hall said.

 

Hall went running on Monday, and said that there was no oil on the beach. He even went snorkeling on Sunday and described the water as being “crystal clear like a swimming pool,” but yesterday morning, Pensacola looked like a different place.

 

He described the oil and tar as being wet, sticking to everything, and washing to shore with each wave. “It is coming in by the dump-truck loads, and it is just disgusting,” he said. “It will just be days before we start seeing wildlife wash up on shore.”

 

The disaster has reminded Hall of a Cree Indian prophecy that he has valued for a long time. The saying goes:

 

"Only after the last tree has been cut down... Only after the last river has been poisoned… Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

 

For the past couple weeks, Hall has been sharing daily video updates of up-close and personal encounters with the oil disaster through his Facebook page and on YouTube. Many of his followers have expressed concern about him encountering the oil, but Hall simply responds by saying, “Someone’s got to do it.”

 

Hall said that he’s not very concerned about the economics or the politics that go along with this disaster, he just wants people to get the real story; he wants people to know what this disaster really looks like.

 

Editor's Note: Please be careful when encountering oil. Experts recommend that anyone involved in oil spill cleanup wear protective equipment and clothing. This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by: ccostello3 // June 24, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
Gulf journals: Going to the story »

 

William Sweezer wants to be a reporter. After watching weeks of coverage of the Gulf Coast oil disaster, he decided to travel from his home in Oakland, California, to get a first-hand view of the spill.

 

The 21-year-old multimedia communications student flew to New Orleans, Louisiana, then rented a car for the two-hour drive to Grand Isle. He was surprised to see oil in the water as he drove over the bridge into the city.

 

"It was more than what I imagined," Sweezer said. "The impression I got from the news and from searching online was that they had stopped it from getting to Grand Isle."

 

On a boat trip around Barataria Bay, he saw workers using heavy equipment to build a protective barrier, booms that had washed out of position, and wildlife living around the muck. He said he couldn't forget the sight of oil floating in the water and clinging to rocks.

 

"There were huge globs of orange crude floating in the water and as soon as you looked up you would see dolphins swimming by and I'm sure it's not good for the dolphins,” Sweezer said.

 

Sweezer was only in Grand Isle for a few days, but he said he met a lot of locals and felt really welcome in the community. He saw several houses and businesses for sale and many people he talked with feared Gulf Coast cities would become ghost towns.

 

Grand Isle native Samantha Lister compared the spill to Hurricane Katrina and said it was hurting business and morale. But she's got no plans to leave.

 

"Once you're born and raised here you never want to leave here," Lister said. "You're just going to stick it out and figure it out."

 

Sweezer shared photos and videos from Barataria Bay and talked to locals at a music festival.He said covering the story was more difficult than he expected, but said it was an invaluable experience.

 

"It did change the way I feel about journalism because between the reporting I was getting to know the people of Grand Isle and I started to feel for them very quickly."

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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davidw
// June 23, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster, stories
Gulf journals: Oil or not, life's a beach »

 

Real estate broker Bruce Alexander loves Orange Beach, Alabama, describing its pure white beaches as a "magical place" where he put down roots after living in Chicago and Southern California. He says he's heartbroken about the oil disaster and its effects on the local economy, which includes everything from local stores to hotels to his real estate business.

 

But he fears that people are becoming unnecessarily spooked by reports of oil on beaches. He has gotten quite a few calls from would-be vacationers wondering about beach conditions and hotel reservations. Alexander says that while there is some oil by the water line, most of the sand is clean and there are still plenty of places where swimming is fine.

 

"This is what I tell them: If you're coming down to the beach to work on your suntan, nothing's going to change."

 

To reassure visitors, he started posting video beach reports on CNN iReport and on his realty site's blog. He calls himself a "guerrilla fighter" for the beach. His wife films him standing with the water in the background. The area appears clean and swimmers are nearby.

 

One especially touching video featured Alexander describing the story of a turtle he nicknamed "Momma Turtle" and her journey through a jungle of oil booms and other obstacles to lay more than 100 eggs.

 

Now, he says he gets hundreds of e-mails every day both from people with questions about the beach and with follow-ups that generally thank him for helpful advice. Alexander says he's glad to be able to provide information for people who may have invested a lot of money in a trip. He says he hopes an upcoming Jimmy Buffett concert will contribute to greater interest and confidence in beach tourism. Overall, he just wants people to keep going to the beach.

 

"Come on down, we need your support. If you love the beach, now is the time to come, because we need your help."

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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nsaidi
// June 22, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
CNN iReport gets new address »

We haven't moved, but we did get a new address at CNN iReport. If you click on the iReport link on CNN.com or type in ireport.com, it will now go to http://ireport.cnn.com. You'll also see the "You're new here …" message when you return to the site and that the recently viewed pages area will be empty at first.

 

The change will make it easier for our developers to build some site features they're working on, but it won't really change your user experience. We just wanted to let you know so the change wouldn't be a surprise. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at contact@ireport.com.

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davidw
// June 22, 2010
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Posted in: site
We are CNN »

A few months ago, we launched a new iReport assignment that was a little different from the rest: instead of inviting people to share news stories, we asked people to post videos that could be part of a new CNN marketing campaign. The videos show the ways people stay connected to CNN, even in some of the unlikeliest places.

 

In April, CNN stitched many of those iReports together into a video presentation that kicked off CNN's Upfront presentation to advertisers. That's kind of a big deal: CNN's presentation was all about CNN's unflagging commitment to quality journalism, its history of innovation, and what's planned for the future. And the first thing the room full of people saw was iReport.

 

So first, thank you. Thank you for being part of this extraordinary community, and for contributing day in and day out to this revolution in news.

 

Second, the video! Take a look. (And by all means, when you're finished, go listen to the full version of Omekongo's CNN rap.)

 

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lila
// June 21, 2010
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Gulf journals: Watching in silence »

Gentle, light-blue waves lapping her feet, Annette Stamm stood in silence as tiny tar balls tumbled ashore. Alongside her, residents and tourists lined the beach, watching helplessly as the oil arrived.

 

The vacationer had come to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, with about 25 family members to celebrate her parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. The family had been planning the getaway for two years. But, when they got there, no one was in the water. The kids couldn’t swim and everyone was disappointed. The family instead focused on enjoying each others’ company, she said.

 

Stamm grabbed a camera and started filming as the color of the tides changed and murky oil encroached the coast. “It really captured the moment,” she said. “It was terrible. Nobody said a word.”

 

The video ignited a spirited conversation on the site and even angered some iReporters. User Blizzusa said, “Those people should have humbled themselves and grabbed a rake. This is our country first and why are we waiting for some foreign company to come clean up the mess?”

 

Stamm, a diving aficionado and beach lover, hasn’t been able to shake the shock and disbelief she felt that day. The scene of floating tar balls in the clear water lingered in her mind.

 

“The hair on my arms just kept standing up for hours,” she said. “It was upsetting because I knew what [the oil] was doing to the environment.”

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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zdan
// June 21, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
Gulf journals: Stories from the coast »

It's been 60 days since the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon explosion, which caused an oil spill that is devastating the Gulf Coast. And while it's still unclear how wide-ranging the effects will be on the ecosystem and coastal communities, one thing is clear: People across the region are suffering.

 

Here at CNN iReport, we quickly realized that we had a unique opportunity to share the stories of concerned Gulf residents. As the oil disaster worsened, we received dozens of photos and videos of oil-covered beaches and wildlife along with heartbreaking stories and compelling quotes.

 

We decided to showcase both the powerful photography and stories together on our blog, through a series of profiles of iReporters on the forefront of the disaster. We've heard stories from a rock star-turned-environmentalist, a lifelong Pensacola resident, and a woman who's driven hundreds of miles to tell the story of a suffering Louisiana town.

 

We'll continue to update the blog with stories as the disaster continues. You can read all the posts here. And if the oil has affected you, we'd love to hear your story as well.

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katie
// June 18, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Gulf journals: Bird's eye view of an oil disaster »

 

One day, a pelican is flying free and the next, it's thirsty, covered in gooey oil, and being transported 20 minutes via truck to a place it can be cleaned up with detergents. iReporter Michael Rusch has gotten a true bird's eye view of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in Louisiana, whether watching pelican feathers get cleaned or sitting in the cockpit of a helicopter high over the water.

 

Rusch says just three weeks ago, he was a guy in a loft in New York. But the disaster compelled him to head out to the Gulf Coast to see what was going on for himself. Inside the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, U.S. wildlife officials told him the rescued birds often come in scared and dehydrated and are given a day to calm down before the cleanup takes place. Rusch said wildlife officials emphasized that the cleaning procedure was probably the scariest thing these pelicans had ever experienced.

 

"They're very subdued. You can tell that they're very stressed," Rusch said of the oily birds. "They're huddled together, they're scared, they're nervous."

 

Rusch’s videos show cleaners holding a bird while another does the washing. He captured images of the cleaned birds in a more natural setting afterward, and said they did seem more relaxed at that point.

 

Rusch is one of many journalistic-minded folks who've headed to the Gulf to help tell this story. He says he's gotten inside access including interviewing Kevin Costner and eating lunch with cleanup workers. He says he's gotten the impression that many organizations, especially BP, are increasingly making their operations more transparent so people are updated on what's going on.

 

"Just the sheer size of it is a very daunting visual. You're sitting in the helicopter and you can see the oil spilling out in all directions."

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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nsaidi
// June 18, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Our weekly roundtable discussion will be kicking off today at 3 p.m. ET. We've got a lot of things that we want to talk about, so we hope you'll join us. If you've got questions or comments about CNN iReport, we'll be happy to answer them.

 

Comments will open at 3 p.m. ET. We look forward to talking with you.

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davidw
// June 17, 2010
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Posted in: community
Gulf journals: Committed to tell their story »

 

Eileen Romero has made the 120-mile drive from New Orleans to Grand Isle, Louisiana, several times since May to document the effects of the oil disaster on the coastal community and its wildlife.

 

“I cannot fathom the depth and breadth of the emotions these residents feel,” Romero said after a recent visit to Grand Isle. “I am still so angry today and they are there watching this every day.”

 

Grand Isle holds a special place in Romero’s heart. As a teen and into her adult years, she and her friends would go surf fishing for Redfish there. Witnessing the oil disaster is especially rough for Romero, who’s seen her share of devastation. She says memories of Hurricane Katrina are all too fresh for residents in the region, many of whom just finished rebuilding after five years.

 

One local told her, “This is just like Katrina all over again. We're sitting around and waiting for an impending doom.”

 

On her visits, Romero has spoken to many Grand Isle locals, and she paid a local shrimper the price of his gas to take her out onto the oil-infested water. As she toured the area, Romero saw “streams of dispersed oil floating atop the water maybe 50 yards from shore,” and dozens of oil-covered birds. There were only a couple of local boats contracted with BP to assist with clean up efforts.

 

“I started having tears run down my face. I was thinking about the oiled birds,” Romero said. “It just breaks my heart to see the wildlife.”

 

Romero has taken dozens of pictures of oil-covered birds and beaches along Grand Isle and Grand Bess Island, a famous bird sanctuary. Romero said that the oil is now in the bay of Grand Isle, and she spoke to iReporter Johnny Colt yesterday about Grand Bess Island and he said that it is now covered in oil.

 

When asked why she continues to visit the barrier islands, her answer was simple: “Because I care.”

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by: ccostello3 // June 17, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster, stories
Gulf journals: Coping with the oil disaster »

For many, it's hard to grasp how big the BP oil disaster is and how long the ecosystem and surrounding communities will suffer. For Gulf Coast residents – those directly affected by the spill – imagining the possibilities is nearly impossible.

 

"Emotionally, we’ve grown numb to it," said iReporter James Amerson. "It's surreal."

 

Amerson, a lifelong Pensacola, Florida, resident, has documented the effects of the oil slick on his community from the beginning. He's photographed poignant messages in the sand, residents facing off with BP representatives, sandy-white beaches marred by oil boom and tar balls, and Coast Guard helicopters flying above. He lives on the Escambia Bay waterfront, and says it's unbelievable to witness a major news story right outside his front door.

 

When he's not out with his camera, Amerson can be found at the hair salon he's owned and operated for 20 years. Although many local businesses have suffered from a lack of tourists, he says the majority of his clientele are local residents.

 

If the oil disaster worsens, though, some residents may be forced to move elsewhere to survive. Amerson says he can't bear to see that happen. "When the residents leave, it's going to affect us all," he explained.

 

For Amerson, taking photographs of the scene around town has helped him to cope with the disaster. "I need to be able to do something," he said. "iReport is helping me get through this."

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

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katie
// June 16, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
Gulf journals: Oil tarnishes photographer's canvas »

 

Mike McHugh fell in love with the Perdido Key, Florida, back in 2000 because it reminded him of his native Australia’s beaches and relaxed, informal way of life.

 

“My work, when I travel, is highly stressful and this is just the perfect decompression chamber from the 'life on the road.' Nothing like an early morning walk on the beach, swim in the surf and a great sunrise and sunset to relieve the pressure,” McHugh said.

 

McHugh is a photographer and walks the beaches of Perdido almost every morning with his camera in hand. His Flickr account is full of photos from the area.

 

McHugh says he’s “sick about” the oil disaster and its effects on his town. “These are my beaches, my environment,” he said.

 

McHugh said that Perdido is known for its marine life, but when he went on his morning walk on the beach on June 10, he did not see any of the creatures. All he could see were barges laying boom. The same goes for the visitors and tourist who usually come to Perdido during the summer season, and whose visits are a big part of the Perdido economy.

 

“Usually the restaurants would be filled [with people] and lines waiting, but not today,” McHugh said. “It’s a May-September economy and it seems more like November before the snowbirds have arrived.”

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport. This profile was written by CNN iReport intern Carly Costello.

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zdan
// June 15, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
Gulf journals: In the oil zone with Johnny Colt »

Johnny Colt wears a respirator mask while leaning over the side of a small boat. He scoops up a handful of batter-like brown muck. The signs of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico are in his hands.

 

Colt has been traveling around the Gulf with a crew, observing the toll of the oil disaster first-hand. He went through Hazmat training and collected samples from a bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Since then, he’s met the mayor of Grand Isle, interviewed an inventor of a valid oil slick solution and traveled to rare dune lakes in Florida.

 

When the news of the oil disaster first broke, Colt, a musician, left his Atlanta home and sped off for the Gulf Coast.

 

"I've been coming down to the Gulf to vacation with my family for 20 years," he said. "I couldn't believe how little information we were getting. I didn't like feeling like a victim."

 

Colt talked about his journey with CNN Newsroom’s Tony Harris on Tuesday. Live from a beach in Destin, Florida, he shared the environmental horrors he’s seen.

 

"When I arrived at Grand Isle, [Louisiana], I walked beaches full of oil, I bobbed and weaved through the National Guard, there are protest cemeteries in people’s front yards …" he told Harris.

 

Even though oil slick images were all over the news, nothing could have prepared Colt for what he actually saw. "I was shocked by the epic proportions of the disaster. I expected it to be bad, but not that bad," he said.

 

Look out for Colt somewhere out on the Gulf, tracking the mess the oil disaster's left behind. The former bassist of the Black Crowes, reality show veteran and self-described independent journalist is just uncovering the many stories to be told.

 

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by:
 
zdan
// June 11, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We want to hear your ideas for improving CNN iReport, so if you've got a great story idea or a design suggestion we'd like to hear it. CNN iReport producers will be also be here to answer any questions you have.

 

We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will talk to you then.

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davidw
// June 10, 2010
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Posted in: community
Flash mobs raise umbrellas, awareness »

 

On Friday, June 4, at exactly 1 p.m. about 200 people opened umbrellas and started dancing outside a restaurant in Elgin, Illinois, as the Rihanna song "Umbrella" blared from a portable stereo.  When the music stopped, everyone packed up their umbrellas and left while the curious lunchtime crowd watched and took pictures.

 

This festive scene repeated itself in cities across the United States including, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; and Seattle, Washington.  It may have looked spontaneous, but organizer Sarah Evans says it took about a month to put Social Mob 4 Good events together.

 

Evans is a public relations and new media consultant in Elgin, and thought the flash mobs would be a good way to draw attention to the challenges local social service agencies are facing. She used facebook, a Google group, Twitter and other social media tools to recruit local organizers and coordinate the events.

 

Many participants used CNN iReport to spread the word about the flash mobs. You can go to the assignment page to see their photos and videos and learn more about some of the agencies they were supporting.

 

Nakeva Corothers says that her small group got a lot of double takes when they started dancing in Washington's DuPont Circle, but said they achieved their goal. "When the music started people stopped to hear and see what we were talking about under those twirling umbrellas," she said.

 

We thought this was a pretty interesting way to use social media, so we wanted to share it with you. If you're looking for ways to get involved in your community check out CNN's Impact Your World page.

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davidw
// June 8, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Fearless iReporter BarbRad hits a million »

“My name is Barbara and I am an undecided voter.”

 

This was BarbRad’s confession the first time she turned the camera on herself for CNN iReport almost two years ago. A college math teacher with no journalism background or experience, she started out on iReport by sending in pictures of hurricane damage and gas shortages and sharing her political views on video.

 

She quickly became – in her own words – addicted to iReporting. Over the past two years, BarbRad broadened her skills and started producing full video packages from events in her hometown of Rogers, Arkansas. She learned what kinds of questions to ask during an interview. She invested in some high-quality equipment and taught herself to edit. She traveled to Haiti to volunteer during the earthquake aftermath. She's one of six iReporters participating in our year-long Economy Tracker project, which profiles economic successes and hardships around the country. And, just a few days ago, she hit a major milestone – her millionth page view on CNN iReport!

 

Congratulations, Barb. We could hear your enthusiasm for reporting in your voice since we first talked to you on the phone, and it hasn’t ever faded. You embody the spirit of iReport – true citizen journalism coming together with CNN to tell incredible stories. You’re an inspiration and an invaluable asset to the CNN iReport community, and we're sure we speak for the whole community when we say thanks for your always-positive attitude and encouragement of other iReporters. We can’t wait to see where your adventures take you next!

 

Congratulations, again, on a well-deserved one million page views! And a warm welcome to the small but growing iReport Millionaire's Club.

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rachel8
// June 8, 2010
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Posted in: community
CNN + iReporters = Better oil disaster coverage »

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico affects hundreds of miles of coastline and countless lives. We asked you to help us cover this important story and have gotten a tremendous response.

 

iReporters were on the scene within hours of the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion  and have shared photos and videos as the gloppy, toxic mess washed ashore. This is a powerful resource that is helping CNN capture the scope of this disaster as well as the dread that so many Gulf Coast residents are feeling.

 

We've also checked out iReporters' creative solutions for stopping the leak and cleaning up the oil, and shared their anger about the way the spill has been handled.

 

When we get reports of oil sheen, tar balls or sick and dead wildlife, we send them to CNN producers who are tracking the spill and can compare the information to the latest data from the government, BP and our teams in the field. In some cases, CNN has sent crews to investigate iReporters' stories and do additional reporting. Once we confirm an iReport, we'll include that information in CNN's coverage. When we get interesting information about an iReport, we'll share it here in the blog and add a producer note, so you will know what we know.

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davidw
// June 4, 2010
 70 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories, stories
Heckling the president: free speech or disrespect? »

When rainy weather put a halt to President Obama's Memorial Day speech in Elwood, Illinois, earlier this week, he made a surprise stop inside a shuttle bus carrying some of the crowd. iReporter Brent Ardaugh was on the bus and shared a video of the president's visit. In the video you can hear excited shouts and applause when Obama steps on, but they're followed pretty immediately by loud heckling. Someone shouts "when are you gonna quit?" and "you should be impeached," then calls the president a "liar."

 

The video has made the rounds in the conservative blogosphere, lighting up a heated discussion in the comments on the original iReport video about the appropriateness of such close-range heckling. For example, "Good for the heckler. He speaks for me," from user RobbyRobby. And "I'm a conservative and am appalled at that churlish young man's pathetic bid for attention.  I doubt he'd have been the same smart@ss if a camera hadn't been running," from user seesay.

 

It's certainly not the first time the president has been heckled, and of course not exclusive to the current president, but it has us wondering: if you were sitting a few feet from the president of the United States, would you shout criticism? Should you? Is it disrespectful of the office, or an important measure of free speech? Where do you draw the line? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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lila
// June 4, 2010
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Posted in: stories
No CNN iReport rountable this week »

We need to cancel today's CNN iReport roundtable because of a scheduling conflict. We apologize for the inconvenience and the short notice. We'll be back next Thursday, June 10th, at 3 p.m. ET.

 

We'll talk with you then.

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davidw
// June 3, 2010
 4 comments // Add a comment
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