La. Dad Sees Son's Heritage Slide Into Spill
JACKI LYDEN, host:
As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, residents along the coast are trying to cope with a disaster that threatens their livelihoods and lifestyles.
NPR's Elizabeth Shogren brings us reflections from a man whose family has deep roots in the Gulf region.
ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Kirk Prest feels the pain every day as he motors his boat through oily waters of Louisiana's Gulf Coast on the way to work.
Mr. KIRK PREST: In fact, on the way over here, I just had tears rolling down my eyes, just all the things going through my mind.
SHOGREN: Usually this time of year, Prest would be taking fishermen out on his boat to catch redfish or speckled trout. Instead, like so many boat captains across the Gulf Coast, he's working for BP. Prest lives in Venice and he's the sixth generation in his family to make a living on these waters. But it's not the blow to his business that bothers him the most, it's the loss of all the bonding experiences he would be having with his 10-year-old child - boating, fishing and hunting duck.
Mr. PREST: With my son not being able to experience those things, that hurts me the most. Forget the money. Money - that's a material thing. It's the things that you can't replace. So, I'm hurt and I'm frustrated and I'm mad, mad as hell.
SHOGREN: Do you feel like you're kind of getting paid by the enemy?
Mr. PREST: Oh, absolutely. But you have no choice.
SHOGREN: He hates working for the company he blames for spoiling his heritage but he needs to pay the bills. No one is hiring fishing charter boats these days. Theoretically, BP pays him about what he'd normally make but he has to work twice as long, and BP has been slow at giving him checks.
His job for BP has been taking biologists to rescue oil-coated birds. One day, he thinks they plucked 40 or 50 of them out of the water.
Mr. PREST: That's when the boat really took an oil bath.
SHOGREN: How was that for you picking up those birds?
Mr. PREST: Oh, it was devastating. I was very emotional all day long.
SHOGREN: As the oil keeps gushing, he worries that it could be a decade before his life gets back to the way it's supposed to be. And by then, it would be too late for him and his son.
Mr. PREST: I won't have those fun times with him on the water like I had with my folks. We won't have that. That chains been broken.
SHOGREN: Like many of the residents of this coast, Prest is resilient. He's had to rebuild after hurricanes, but those natural disasters pale to this manmade one. And he's not sure he'll be able to pull it together again after this one -if that after ever comes.
Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News.
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