Saturday, August 21, 2010

We are in Grand Isle - Beautiful place, beautiful people!/album.php?aid=73635&id=1322605103  for photo album.

We arrived here yesterday, got situated and did a quick tour of eastern part of the barrier island.  I was struck by how many drilling platforms are here.  You can't look in any direction without seeing them.

Monday 5 areas of beach were opened to the public.  We saw a few umbrellas and signs of beachgoers; but we did see a number of surf fishermen.  The waters were opened to both commercial and sport fishing.  The fall shrimp season began this past Monday.  We ate in a local restaurant and the waitress told us she was thrilled because they got their first load of fresh shrimp.  She sees it as a sign of hope and an indication that they are on the way back to normal.

I keep thinking about "The Impossible Dream" from Man of LaMancha.  I hope this dream is not impossible.  The residents are grasping to the hope that things are going to get better for them at last.  There is deep frustration, skepticism, but my impression is that these are a very optimistic lot of people who have weathered many other storms (literally and figuratively).  Next week is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  In visiting with local folks, it seems almost therapeutic for them to talk about Katrina.  Although there are still some signs of its damage; and the vivid memories of how much flooding occurred, they got through it.  These people seem to find strength from their Katrina experience.  I hope it helps them get through this catastrophe as well.

On the good news front, the Community Center is the focal point for small businesses to apply for 133 SBA economic injury disaster loans totalling a little over $10 million.  BP has provided $15 million in funding to the LA Dept. of Health and Hospitals for behavioral health support for coastal residents.  In addition a toll-free hotline has been setup by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Everyone is so friendly.  Smiles abound.  We have met with cleanup workers, merchants, wait staff and all are happy to see us.  They are very appreciative that we came here to be with them and to "see how y'all are doing".  It's hard to believe these folks are living in the midst of such a great environmental disaster.  Are there lessons for the Chaplains to learn from their attitudes?  Living in the present moment.  Loving kindness.  The interdependent web of all existence.  We have come with the intent of helping them.  Already they have helped us. 

May all beings be happy.  May they be joyous and live in safety.  Until tomorrow, please see a photo album posted on Facebook.  Here is one celebrating some good news.
Fishing boats leaving an inlet headed for fishing grounds off Grand Isle, LA

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