Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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.

June 23, 2010
Click to view agrl4god80's profile

good for him. :) glad to see good come out of Oakland.

June 23, 2010
Click to view lyn2112's profile

that was at best a racist comment.:) idiot.

June 23, 2010
Click to view deejPDX's profile

racist? really? you ever been to Oakland?

June 23, 2010
Click to view 91rete8's profile

lyn2112 - GET a LIFE. 


It was and IS an outstanding article....

June 23, 2010
Click to view Glmrgrl's profile

Great article! Good for you, William Sweezer. I was raised in Oakland, as was my son, and it is a wonderful place to live.

June 23, 2010
Click to view Dust's profile

Make a heavy walled condom like device and insert it in the pipe leaving about thirty  feet of free space above. Inflate the device with sea water to block the oil then put cement on top. I thought of this when I heard of the leak but thought someone at BP would see the obvious. They would loose the well head but could drill another, big loss but to hell with them.

June 23, 2010
Click to view dlee73's profile

good Idea Dust, but there are a few reasons why they have not sealed the well. the main one is the bubble of methane that sits under the well that it tapped into.. it is showing signs of a major eruption and sealing the cap would speed that process. It is a fact that there is going to be a major catastrophic event that will make the oil slick a memory...

June 23, 2010
Click to view mikeland's profile

Halliburton offered to ram a drilling tool into the well but BP told them to get bent.  Now Halliburton is looking like the winner in this one because BP will now get hit with unbelievable fines and punitive damages in the eventual fallout trials.

June 23, 2010
Click to view SFBayRod's profile

Thanks William for illustrating the oil mess quite vividly. Count me in as one of the millions who are appalled that this spill ever happened. Offshore oil rigs do not make good stewards for Earth (& especially wildlife). Unfortunately, until greed ends or a viable & environmentally-friendly energy source is on the market, there'll be no guarantee against future oil spills.


Rod Thornton (a fellow Oakland resident)


P.S. For those making derogatory Oakland comments: You are displaying your ignorance. Although there are some troubled areas, the good neighborhoods are more plentiful here -- and expensive. 

June 24, 2010
Click to view Dahlak014's profile

@ SFBayRod...I could not agree more! I am from Oakland as well but currently reside in NYC and I recently traveled home and I was shocked as to how much Oakland has changed in the three years I've been away. The neighborhoods that were once considered "ghosttowns" are now flourishing and as you mentioned, expensive!

June 29, 2010
Click to view williams0252's profile

  As far as the oil spill is concerned, if they would send down a long rod, with a barb at the end,( so it would  steadfastly anchor to the inside of the pipe), and on the rod have mounted a long, deflated, pontoon  shaped balloon made of very strong material.  Insert the whole thing into the pipe.  And when it was securely anchored, fill the balloon, with air or whatever.  The flow would stop.

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