Monday, June 21, 2010
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.

48 Comments
June 21, 2010
Click to view jekmemph's profile

What is the real story on how bad the beaches are in South Walton? Supposed to be going the end of July

June 21, 2010
Click to view sieviero's profile

Years ago I read a science fiction story about the deepest well of all being drilled. But when the drill broke through, the oil was red -- the blood of Mother Earth -- and there was no sealing the wound. I feel that the gulf disaster may be an eery precursor of worse things to come. We must try to live in balance or we will die poisoned.

June 21, 2010
Click to view acejack's profile

We just returned from Okaloosa Island, Fl and the clean up crews are doing a great job on the beach.  They are even working at night with flashlights. I would still visit the area if I were on you, jekmemph.  Tar balls along the shore line but once you're in the water, it's fine. 

June 21, 2010
Click to view aesthete's profile

Grabbed a rake?  What good would that do?  It won't clean the water and where would you put them - in a pile?  Not exactly helpful.

June 21, 2010
Click to view milesgone's profile

sadly, there is NO CLEAN UP til the leak is stopped.

June 21, 2010
Click to view TXborn63's profile

This is BS.  I know someone who is there on the "Emerald Coast" right now...and they say there is nothing in the water.

June 21, 2010
Click to view Nimrod's profile

Everyone should google the Ixtoc 1 blowout from back in 1979.  It might calm the fears of many people.  My family is from the Rio Grande Valley and we have always spent a good deal of time at South Padre  Island.  That spill certainly had an affect on the beaches there, but the shrimping and fishing industries survived it and South Padre is now one of the top beaches on the gulf.

June 21, 2010
Click to view blues77's profile

We are currently in Ft. Walton Beach and I am looking out at the clear emerald blue-green water as I make this post.  Just got here saturday and the beaches look as beautiful as previous years we have visited the area.  Yes, last week they did have tar balls hit but the clean up crews are cleaning up quickly.  They are even stationed up and down the beach in case any addition clean up is needed.  If you check the local FL websites they have real time updates and plenty of webcams to see beach conditions.  Please don't rely on the media hype of situations.  Were people impacted last week when there was impact, yes, but don't use one incident to judge beach conditions for the entire summer.  There are so many great local people that rely on visitors like us to sustain their business.  They are suffering right now and the best thing you can do is support them.  And most rental agencies are VERY flexible if conditions change prior to your planned arrival. 

June 21, 2010
Click to view mjj4ever's profile

At potentially 4.2 million gallons of oil a day, I don't think the gulf is going to recover.  And that might not be the max - not if they were able to pump 500k barrels controlled.  If that were to be the max, it would be 21 million gallons a day.  Not to worry, once we all are gone, and a few billion years pass, the gulf will be good as new!

June 21, 2010
Click to view gdk47's profile

I just returned from 3days at Orange Beach/Gulf Shores Alabama.  We walked two miles of beach, saw no oil, no oil on the beaches or in the water, smelled no oil and the beaches and water were completely clear.  While swimming was discouraged, people were in the water.  We saw booms well off shore and counted 90 vessels in the area on Sunday morning.  The situation may change later, but the media has really damaged the economy there by the over hype and lack of even-handed reporting.  The cancellations reported to us have been up to 90 percent for weddings, etc. and the hotels were less than 1/2 full

June 21, 2010
Click to view stevieray's profile

Where had these people been proior to arriving, in a cave? What do you expect with 100K barrels a day for the last 63, the Riviera?! Happy Anniversary, now go home!

June 21, 2010
Click to view hoaxusa's profile

Bunch of CNN Id10ts believe the Bush administration caused the spill. Yeah that's why they are Id10t's. Goldman Sach's sold of 60% of BP interest, Goldman- Sach's CEO sold off his BP interest (all in Jan-march 2010. Goldman Sachs gave 1 mil to Obama campaign and Obama gave bailout money to Goldman-Sachs. Obama caused this spill on purpose to overwhelm America so he could make America a Socialist country. If that's what you want then we will fight and you will die, sorry. 

June 21, 2010
Click to view coloretaf's profile

Shock, disbelief, stunned?  All words used to describe these people's feelings.  Like stevieray asked, have you been in a cave?  This has been on the news for over two months.  How could you not know what to expect when you got there?

 

June 21, 2010
Click to view cre8ivepoet's profile

Where the hell have these folks been for the last 3 months? Under a rock? This has been nationwide if not worldwide news.

June 21, 2010
Click to view 904Tony's profile

hoaxusa, do everyone a favor and end your rambling non-sense. Give it a break

June 21, 2010
Click to view nooilinfla's profile

spent yesterday (father's day)in destin, fl at crystal beach. there WAS NO OIL, NO TAR BALLS and all the parking was taken up by beach goers!!!!! come on down, the beaches are open and great. green flags at the beach and plenty of people in the water. (i live here, thank GOD!!!!)

June 21, 2010
Click to view johnsole1's profile

Spent my honeymoon in Port Aransas, Texas, in 1984 when spilled oil from I don't remember which spill was affecting that coast in a "minor" way.  We found out the hard way that acetone is about the only thing that gets the oil blobs off your skin and any swimwear or clothing worn in the water is ruined.  Raking the beach does help make the beachfront usable for visitors, but getting in the fouled water is not recommended.

June 21, 2010
Click to view Genesis1267's profile

Right, what you live under a rock and didn't know the beach was full of oil!

 

Until you stop using oil there is no reason to bitch as BP is delivering the drug each one of us requires!

June 21, 2010
Click to view justahuman2's profile

You can not compare this oil spill to any other in US History.  Do a little research and you'll see that the amount of oil that has spilled into the Gulf is so much more than anything we've ever experienced! You can't rely on past experiences to determine the effect of this.  Honestly, I wouldn't trust a post from anyone who lives in the panhandle of Florida, or in Alabama or Louisiana that says the beaches are beautiful and the water is clean--conflict of interest.  And, just because you can't see tarballs, doesn't mean the water isn't polluted from the oil!  When will human health be valued more than making a dollar?! I would not let any of my little ones swim there, or play on the beaches, because I'm not sure I could believe it was safe (when money is involved, people lie).  And clean up?  Do you think cleaning your bathroom while someone is bleeding all over it, is going to do much good?  I don't think enough has been said about how bad this really is!!! The US needs to stop pretending so it can really solve the problem!

June 21, 2010
Click to view Dust's profile

And a third of the oceans were poisoned...Where have you read that before?

June 21, 2010
Click to view j4dsmith's profile

I just returned from Sea Grove Beach, FL on Saturday, 19 June. We had had a family vacation planned since January. And we debated whether to go or not but we called our condo management and they assured us everything was fine. The water was beautiful(all week) and we saw no tar balls. There was the usual days of some seaweed and seagrass but it did not keep us from getting in the water. I found some the most beautiful shells i have ever found, in the 45 yrs I have visited down in that area! Please go visit our beaches, and support our independently owned BP gas stations(they are NOT responsible for the mess that has been caused by BP Corp)

June 21, 2010
Click to view hoaxusa's profile

904Tony....Yeah, it's doing everyone a favor by stayting quiet about the truth. It's morons like you that's the reason this bozo got elected and you couldn't care less on whether you have to go Marxist. It figures, most CNN readers are lemmings.

June 21, 2010
Click to view Dizzle56's profile

Hoaxusa...well said. If McCain and Palin were in office, there is no way BP would of used the garbage equipment they used, rushed the work, and ignored the safety protocols. No way this would of happened if Palin was running the show. Btw - next time your brilliant mind wants think about socialism, I hope it’s right after your house catches on fire and you need to call the fire department, or someone rob's your house and you need to call the police. You know who caused the spill? BP. How hard is that to understand?

June 21, 2010
Click to view TNopinion's profile

sieviero - I have never been an overly religious person, but the bit in Revelations about the sea turning red and every creature in the sea dying makes you rethink the whole religion bit.  At least it has me.  I think right before that was something about hail storms, and well, 3 new roofs and a new vehicle in 5 years all due to hail.  Scary.

June 21, 2010
Click to view greyrzeznik's profile

"We just returned from Okaloosa Island, Fl and the clean up crews are doing a great job on the beach.  They are even working at night with flashlights. I would still visit the area if I were on you, jekmemph.  Tar balls along the shore line but once you're in the water, it's fine."

 

Please tell me you don't have children.

June 21, 2010
Click to view kes504's profile

Regarding the comment by blizzusa:

"Those people should have humbled themselves and grabbed a rake." HELLO?!?  Oil is a hazardous substance that must be collected and disposed of properly.  The average joe or tourist on the beach has neither the training nor the resources to clean up and dispose of the oil.  And only trained individuals should EVER attempt to capture oiled wildlife...for their own safety as well as that of the animal. There are thousands of us along the gulf coast who would love to pitch in and help clean up the oil, but the fact is, BP and the government are only utliizing trained individuals.  Many people I know, myself included, have registered on multiple volunteer websites, only to be told that our services are not needed at this time.  It is so frustrating to stand by doing nothing while our precious Gulf is fouled.  I would gladly scoop up oil or scrub oiled pelicans and sea turtles all day if someone would let me.  Unfortunately I am not "qualified".

 

June 21, 2010
Click to view kes504's profile

And in response to justahuman2, who said "Honestly, I wouldn't trust a post from anyone who lives in the panhandle of Florida, or in Alabama or Louisiana that says the beaches are beautiful and the water is clean--conflict of interest."

The fact of the matter is, the condition of the beaches and the water quality vary daily with prevailing currents and wind patterns.  The beach near my hometown, which experienced heavy oil several weeks ago, was beautiful yesterday without a sign of oil.  No telling what it will look like a week from now, though.  That's the honest truth from someone who has seen it with my own eyes, no hidden agenda here.

June 21, 2010
Click to view tellytuttut's profile

Hurricane is on the way to the Gulf

June 21, 2010
Click to view teresa2002us's profile

Oil Spill Telethon

Why are the already strapped Americans being asked for help with this situation?  BP should be digging in their pockets to assist with beach and business recovery, instead of sipping expensive champagne on sailing yachts! And, in six months Americans will pay the price at the pumps, because BP had so many expenses, and are never reluctant to pass this on to the consumer at the pumps. We saw it with Valdez, and all the other spill incidents. Let's put the responsibility and the cost where is belongs; with BP.

June 21, 2010
Click to view DaMikMan's profile

Here's the problem with the media.  What you see in that picture is sargassum- a type of algae common to the area that shows up every year- sometimes light and some years super thick.  That IS NOT oil you see......

June 21, 2010
Click to view CC4's profile
CC4

It is a tragedy but non the less these things happen in life. How we repond to it can resault in a positive or negative outcome. The thing we need to understand is that oil is not bad it is a wonderful natural product that has had a good impact on all of our lives, BP got careless and it is costing us but we can and will recover from it. If the environmentalist and US government did not have a chock hold on drilling in lesser depths this problem would not have been as great. Until we develop better resources for energy we still need fossil fuel.

June 21, 2010
Click to view oceanbuoy's profile

Obama should not be on the golf course at a time like this, but on the "gulf course", of coarse; meantime, would it not be more appropriate for Tony Heywood to charter a big sailboat about the size of his sailing yacht, in the gulf, fly his sailing crew there, and join them in a race through the oil slicks for the next week or so, until he finally gets the point about how serious this spill is. Hey, maybe Obama and his Whitehouse 'crew' should join him !

June 21, 2010
Click to view MeganES's profile

It's disheartening to see so many posts arguing about the clarity of the water and whether people's vacations might be marred.  How about still going to the shore -- to ensure the economies there don't dwindle entirely -- and redirecting that positive energy to helping clean the beaches if tar is there?  So many people sit back and say "why isn't more being done?" but they DO NOTHING THEMSELVES.

June 21, 2010
Click to view mrsludge's profile

I do hope you all realize that crude oil is an all natural product. It is not manufactured. It is created by mother nature and controlled by mother nature. Your just upset that it is going to ruin your precious holidays. Mother nature will take care of this mess in her own good time. She usually works on the million year time scale so that is a bummer for the 100 year life span humans out of work. If this turns out to be the mistake by humanity that does them in, she will just write of humanity all with the million of other species that did make it. But this may be hard for you self centered freaks to understand, but life would go on with out us. The world doen't need us.

 

June 21, 2010
Click to view ficheye1's profile

Hey, I wanna go watch the people who posted 'once you're in the waters fine'.

 

Yeah, arsenic is fine, too, until you eat some of it. That body of water will never in our lifetimes be a place to go swimming and fishing. And the oil has just started to appear. It will be 'arriving' for years.

June 21, 2010
Click to view mmckee58's profile

I guess this is one of those rare times where it's actually a good thing that most Americans on the left and right are scientifically illiterate.  Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the majority of Americans knew what the scientists know, that it was all over about 40 days ago.  There is no cleaning this up period.  It is not possible.  That's what all those environmental scientists were warning you about for so many years, and at some point we adopted the whole "that's your truth" concept and we branded these folks as "America Haters".  And you thought that the only danger with having an illiterate society was electing facist theocrats...  It's a new morning in America! And it's a little late to wake up and smell the coffee.

June 21, 2010
Click to view dragonslaye6's profile

The folks in that part of the world wanted deep water drilling even though they'd been made aware of the dangers.  I DO NOT want my tax dollars used to clean up this mess.  I've always been willing to sacrifice to get us off our oil addiction.  Let the people on the Gulf clean it up and live with it.  I won't contribute a dime or a second to help.

June 21, 2010
Click to view scarls's profile

I'm not booking a vacation at a beach where I can't actually use the beach just to "help out" those in the Gulf area.  When manufacturing jobs were outsourced to other countries, we told those people to get retrained and get another job.  When call center and IT jobs were outsourced, those people had to get other jobs, too.  So now, an oil spill which people were warned could happen threatens the tourism industry in the Gulf area.  Not my problem.  Get retrained and get another job.  No jobs in the area?  Move.  People always rail against "handouts" until they are the ones who need it.  It is tough economically for everyone and I'm not wasting my hard earned money to help out someone who wouldn't dare lift a finger to help me.  I'm sorry if those fishermen and oil workers have to change careers.  Or if those restaurants and hotels have to close.  There is always Wal-Mart and McDonald's, people.  No one should ever be too proud to work any job.

June 21, 2010
Click to view RudeRichard's profile

People should not be stunned by the sight oil on the beach.  Unless they've been under a rock...

June 21, 2010
Click to view winemaster2's profile

Just a little oil, what is the big deal. For these red necks and cheap conservative republican best ever sun screen.  It is just oil man. They been using is for everything far too long. What difference would make now. All they have to do is go take a shower at the hotel and use  some Ajax powder and they come out lilly white as usual.

June 22, 2010
Click to view moneywagon2's profile

good job everyone who still drives a gasoline powered car, including myself

June 22, 2010
Click to view DeepseaDivr's profile

2012 is the end of the world; don't sweat this little oil-spill stuff.  Add up the recent and current natural/man-made disasters, as well as the heat index and socio-economic troubles.  We're toast.

June 22, 2010
Click to view stimpage's profile

Breaking News:  Seeing as this was apparently missed by those in the story, let me repeat that there has been a major oil leak in the Gulf region.  As this has only been an ongoing event for 2+ months, it is completely understandable that some may have missed it.

June 22, 2010
Click to view chesig's profile

How does everyone feel about the Federal Judge ruling against the ban to start drilling for oil again?

June 23, 2010
Click to view terrisao's profile

This oil spill disaster is so heart-wrenching.  I feel for those living near the Gulf, but more than that I feel for us as a species.  We have to change our dependency on oil and move towards clean energy.  Join "HANDS ACROSS THE SAND" June 26th, 2010 for a WORLDWIDE event at local area beaches around the world to say "No to Off Shore Drilling, and Yes to Clean Energy!"  Terri - Local So. Cal. Beach Organizer for www.handsacrossthesand.org

June 24, 2010
Click to view flvisitor's profile

I was in Ft Walton June 16.  The oil smelled so bad we could not sit on the balcony.  Tar balls were everywhere on the beach and the water.  They closed the beach for swimming.  They allowed swimming the next day.  My skin felt unusually slippery as did my fingernails.  I will not go back for a long time. 

November 17, 2010
Click to view cjclark816's profile

I'm not a highly religious man, but I am spiritual.  If I look around this planet, I see a purpose for everything that isn't man-made; trees for shade and oxygen production, rain for hydration, etc.  Without man, this world would more than likely function optimally.  But with everything having a purpose, has anyone thought of the purpose of oil in the ground?  We have found a purpose that suits it perfectly...mainly, as a heat dissapater for our engines.  Couldn't it be that our oil was supposed to cool the earth, keeping it habitable for all of us to live here?  As we begin to suck it out, our planet's temperature seems to rise exponentially, doesn't it?  I think that we should figure out what our earth needs and why before we continue a centuries old practice of pure consumerism.

December 3, 2011
Click to view rhvankar's profile

i here the wispring voice of lord  sea!who is resopnsible for natural calmatices,the man cross the natural limits for our own hobby,in the name of secientific invention,killing the innocent creatures ,the fish is the only natural water cleaner on the earth!the earth is the daugter of  lord sea!mark our limits towars the natural gifts,all creaters are the oils for our future!save all alive,remember the words of lord,jesus,do not kill to any one on the earth,the death of lord isu is the biggest example on the earth!save nauture save future!aamin-

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