Homemaker Lena Hofer, 25, recently went to the community center in Bayou La Batre, Ala., for free food and household goods -- and was reluctantly turned away by volunteers when Feed the Children ran out of supplies. "It's really hard when they send you away after you [ask for food], especially when you need it like I do," she says. "I'm about to cry." Marisa Penaloza/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Marisa Penaloza/NPR

Republican Tim Scott celebrates his victory in a South Carolina House race at an election night party. Scott is the first African-American Republican elected to Congress from the state since Reconstruction. Alice Keeney/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Alice Keeney/AP

Waves breaking on the shore in Orange Beach, Ala., leave behind an oily residue. Mayor Tony Kennon expects BP to restore the town's beaches to sugar white condition. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Darryl and Kristina Pendergrass and their sons, William, 3, and Ian, 20 months. The family gets by on Daryl's $43,000-a-year salary as a biologist with the Alabama Department of Public Health. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Two years ago, college students on the NAACP's "Vote Hard" bus tour encouraged people to vote in Selma, Ala., in the presidential race. African-American voters went to the polls in droves. Now, the Democratic National Committee is trying to do the same for the midterm elections. Mario Tama/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mario Tama/Getty Images

Bayou Bienvenue in New Orleans is an example of south Louisiana’s wetland loss. Fifty years ago, this was a productive freshwater marsh with cypress and tupelo trees. Today, stumps are all that remain, as saltwater has encroached inland. Debbie Elliot/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliot/NPR

Jody Blount of Krebs Architecture and Engineering readies to take a sediment sample on the shores of Weeks Bay on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The city of Orange Beach has hired independent scientists to monitor the air, water and soil in the wake of the massive oil spill. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Sharon Hanshaw, a beautician turned global climate activist living in Biloxi, Miss., has traveled the world to tell the story of how her neighborhood has struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

The Sand Shark lifts sand onto a conveyor belt, then dumps it through a sifting device. BP says the machine can clean more sand in 5 minutes than 100 people could in three hours. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Oil workers listen to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal during a speech in June in Houma, La. Jindal spoke out against the six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling, saying it would kill thousands of Louisiana jobs. Gregory Bull/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Gregory Bull/AP

Twin sisters Sheila Newman (left) and Sheryl Lindsay of Orange Beach, Ala., make their case to a BP claims adjuster. The wedding planners have been trying since June to get BP to pay for lost income from the oil spill. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Sunbathers walk along the beach in Pensacola Beach, Fla. on Aug. 1. Local business officials are asking for a substantial federal investment in getting tourists back to the coast after the peak summer season was wiped out by the oil spill. Dave Martin/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Dave Martin/AP