Gulf Coast Residents Relieved Leak Has Stopped

In New Orleans, people have been watching closely for any hopeful signs that the well in the Gulf would stop gushing oil. At one oyster house, news that the leak has stopped, at least temporarily, was tempered after nearly three months of waiting. Many people in the city have lost their jobs because of the BP spill.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Let's go now to New Orleans, where people have been anxiously following every development.

NPR's Kathy Lohr stopped in at an oyster house, where people had just heard that the oil was no longer gushing into the Gulf.

KATHY LOHR: There's a bit of excitement at Bourbon House, but it's tempered after nearly three months of waiting.

(Soundbite of oyster bar)

LOHR: Larry Brooks shucks oysters behind a giant marble oyster bar. He says many in the city have lost jobs or had to cut hours because there aren't as many oysters to serve.

Mr. LARRY BROOKS (Oyster Shuck, Bourbon House): Well, we're loving the fact that it stopped, you know. We could just hope for the best and hope they can get it all cleared up, and we could just keep shucking.

LOHR: One of the floor managers at the Bourbon House, Henry Souviac(ph), says people have been on pins and needles, worrying every day. And he's not convinced it's over. After all, he says, BP has made so many other efforts to cap the well, and those failed.

Mr. HENRY SOUVIAC (Floor Manager, Bourbon House): Let's give it a while. But Im relieved right now. Im not completely - Im not happy by any stretch of the imagination. But Im relieved. I hope that this is the fix. So if this is what stops all that oil - and we can go back to our lives. So today's news is huge. It really is huge, but we're being cautiously optimistic.

KATHY LOHR: Ewell Smith is with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. He's still worried about the fishermen, with 35 percent of the federal fishing waters along the Gulf closed. Smith also worries about the job ahead, convincing people that seafood from the Gulf is still safe to eat.

Mr. EWELL SMITH (Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board): It's been an ongoing hurricane for us for three months almost. And now we're going to need to figure out what the pieces are, so we can start picking them up and putting them back together and we can start rebuilding our brand for Louisiana seafood across the nation.

LOHR: Smith says people here are skeptical and tired, tired of the oil and tired of the promises. And people here know even if the leak is stopped, the cleanup is really just beginning.

Kathy Lohr, NPR News, New Orleans.

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