We are almost a full month into hurricane season and BP's plan for a tropical system in the Gulf is still the same. No contingency plan. No new equipment. In fact, BP and the Coast Guard are stumbling along with the attitude that they will somehow be immunized from any tropical system. As far as I can tell, they expect to have something by mid-July. Maybe.
Anyone that has lived in this part of the country for more than a couple of years can tell you that mid-July is late. Especially in the Gulf. Most of us have already gathered and planned for a storm. I know - the Weather Channel keeps repeating their poll that shows a lot of folks don't have a hurricane plan. Beyond the Weather Channel's propensity for making things up to suit their story and scare people, that poll covers most of the Eastern seaboard and not just the "hurricane coast."
For those of us that live in the actual target area for most storms, May is when planning starts and June is when it is done. One would think the Coast Guard and Thad Allen would know this. It is not as if the National Hurricane Center has not been warning of an active season. And last I looked, the Hurricane Center works for the ever redoubtable NOAA, which works for the same government as Thad Allen.
Of course one is the Interior Department and one is Homeland Security. If there is one thing the oil disaster has shown us it is that the government still has more problems communicating between cabinet departments than we do with most hostile nations.
Well, now there is the threat of a storm entering the Gulf of Mexico early next week. This is not a joking matter. The National Hurricane Center tends towards hesitance to talk about a storm unless there really is one.
And what is BP's plan should the storm show up next week? Well, they plan to leave. Most of the vessels currently working the spill/leak/disaster are not appropriate for the rough seas even a minor storm would bring. So they will have to simply leave and seek safe harbor.
What does this mean? It means that for at least a week - probably 2 weeks or longer, oil would flow into the Gulf unchecked and unobserved. It means that the disaster would simply get worse. It means that with all of the chatter about plans and reviews, not one of these self-proclaimed experts said, "What if a hurricane comes?" In fact, NOAA has been issuing reports trying to somehow minimize a storm's impact. Of course, this is the same NOAA that denied the existence of undersea oil plumes until yesterday.
Let's talk impact. NOAA says oil will not fall in the rain a storm would bring. Really? Does that include dispersant emulsified oil? The report only talks about raw crude oil. The winds and seas of a storm would radically change the state of the emulsified oil. What about just the dispersant? How does that work in a storm. Nobody knows because nobody ever dealt with this much dispersant.
One of the phenomena associated with tropical systems is "churning" or "upwelling." Basically this is what happens when the storm stirs the water, bringing up water from lower depths as it picks up the warmer surface water. Normally this is a good thing. However, that deeper water is now contaminated with untold amounts of oil and dispersant. What happens there? Well, it is fairly obvious. The dispersant laden oil would spread further and faster. Does NOAA have a comment on that? Nope.
How about the "millions of feet" of boom? What happens with that stuff? Again, no plan. No thought. No concept. What happens is the storm picks it up and moves it, along with the oil coating it. Depending on which way the storm goes, the oil soaked boom could end up inland or just become millions of feet of flying debris. Oil soaked toxic debris.
A serious storm will bring a dispersant and oil laden surge. Depending on strength or location, the prediction of an oil slick on Bourbon Street is not that far fetched. The marshes and wetlands that are now oil coated would be damaged beyond repair. The oil kills the grass which has the roots that hold the island together. Take away the roots and the island washes away. Forever.
Thad Allen says he would need 6-7 days to get everyone out of the way of even a minimal storm. And what happens to the oil over that week? Guess. Add another week to that for the getting everything back in place. And the oil? Still leaking out into the Gulf. The dispersant? Still poisoning everything it touches.
The government and BP? Pretending it won't happen. Just like they pretended the spill couldn't happen.
I hope there is no storm. Only the seriously demented - like Jim Cantore and The Weather Channel - hope for a storm. But I have lived here too long to not prepare for one.
The simple fact that there was not a cohesive storm plan in place immediately speaks volumes to the incompetence and poor planning that have become standard in handling this disaster. Perhaps when NOAA is through with their scary "climate change" chatter and FEMA is done with the endless scary hurricane chatter, they can actually do their jobs and put together a plan for a real storm in a real place based on real science.
I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.
I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.
Please help out and get the message out at the same time.
You can order them here: http://www.itisnotagame.spreadshirt.com