Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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.

4 Comments
June 22, 2010
Click to view wambam's profile

How are real estate sales going?Over the last 60 days how many properties have sold and at what price vs before leak? This article tells us nothing but that a real estate agent is pretending everthing is fine.

June 23, 2010
Click to view countryfair's profile

Stop using complicated engineering fixes that don't work.  Keep it simple by building a "tomb" around the leak.  Use huge concrete blocks, surround the leak with blocks and place concrete slabs on top of the blocks. Using a hole drilled in the blocks, inject a fast drying substance into the blocks.  If the blocks more, add more blocks.  Let's try simplicity. 

June 26, 2010
Click to view gharabally's profile
I only see it fit that in our current climate and with mass collaborative technologies that companies, including those effected by the disaster take an active role in educating the masses about the effects of such spills and their effects on our world, but business as well. I could only imagine, if for example, a real-estate internet portal ie. Masahati.comcould connect with property listers and describe the effects of such a environmental mess has on the property market. Then perhaps, we could see positive actions from businesses.
July 10, 2010
Click to view jennherrin's profile

I am a resident of Orange Beach, AL..relocated last year from Jacksonville, fl. I fell in love with this place...So I was looking forward to this summer specifically because the beaches. We are minutes away and financially it was affordable. We were not able to go of coarse, so through the fits of anger and fustration from the children not understanding why we are not able to enjoy beaches this summer.... I started taking pictures as a tool to help me explain the "Why not?" question. I have not been to our beach since June 2, 2010. The oil arrived not to long after that. I would watch the news and was content that the clean up crews were doing a good job. I would often ask cashiers when I was out shopping, instead of "How are you doing?"...."Have you seen the beach lately?" if the reply was yes, my next question would be "how do they look?" the concensus was they are cleaning it up and it looks good.  The video and photos that I captured really made me angry. It seems to me that they are not actually getting all the oil... they are only getting the visible oil to make our beaches aesthetically pleasing to the locals and visitors, it is what lies beneath that really matters. I know some people will look at my reports and say.... why is she posting these reports? they need tourist to come to the area. I do not want to minimize the economical affects or job losses of this situation.

If we do not open our eyes now to correct the effectiveness and quality of the clean up efforts we may see our tourism dwindle down in the upcoming years due to what may become of our once prestine beach reputation. Tourists do not want to see their child happily building a sand castle... then the shock of seeing a thick tar patty with a sandy shell and gooey center wondering what hazard it poses on thier child.

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