Much Worse Than Katrina…May 1, 2010 - 3:17 PM | by: Brooks Blanton
Despite the thick fog that settled over Cedar Point Pier this morning, Roland “Mac” McRae still had a steady stream of customers willing to pay $5 to fish all day. McRae has been running the pier near Dauphin Island, Alabama since 1987. He has managed to recover from harsh blows delivered by Hurricanes George, Ivan and Katrina, but what is headed his way this time might finally mean an end to his fishing business.
“I couldn’t sleep at all last night,” said McRae. “Right now we are fielding about 80 percent more phone calls than what we normally get. Everybody is wanting to know, are we even open?”
Die hard fisherman like Jesse Adams were trying to get a day of fishing in before the oil slick oozes into the area bays and wetlands. While baiting his hook and casting his line into the water Adams feared this might be the last day of fishing for a long time.
“I hope not,” Adams said while sitting on the end of Cedar Point Pier. “The fish will bite when they want to bite. And I hope to be there when they bite.”
McRae’s fishing pier and nearby house sit on a series of islands just south of the mainland near Mobile, Alabama — an area that is expecting to take on oil as early as Sunday. Business and property owners all along the Gulf Coast believe the massive oil spill will nearly wipe out the lucrative tourism and seafood industries that drive a large portion of the economy from Louisiana east to Florida. Most in this area prone to hurricanes and tropical storms are used to recovering from natural disasters. But they say this will be more devastating than any hurricane.
“I felt like Hurricane Katrina was coming again. But the sad thing about this is, with Katrina I knew I could rebuild in four months,” McRae said. “With this oil spill I don’t know if I will ever come back.”
Ironically, a group of students from Mobile’s Murphy High School was on Cedar Point Pier this morning gathering water and plant samples to wrap up a five-year long study about how Hurricane Katrina affected the ecology in the area. But they wonder if future biology students will be here in five more years looking at the damage that millions of gallons of oil could bring.
Mac McRae believes that this environmental, and likely economic disaster, could have been avoided. He blames the oil companies for possibly altering the only way of life that he and so many on the Gulf of Mexico have known for so long.
“There are generations of people and this has been their livelihood,” Mac McRae said, watching the young students mill around his pier. “If they don’t shut that oil off it is going to be catastrophic…it will be unbelievable.”