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Psychological Toll of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Quietly Mounts 

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Old 06-28-2010, 05:08 AM
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Psychological Toll of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Quietly Mounts

The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster feels far worse to shrimper Ricky Robin than Hurricane Katrina, even though he's still haunted by memories of riding out the hurricane on his trawler and of his father's suicide in the storm's aftermath.


A refinery flare burns early Saturday near shrimp boats used to ferry supplies to fight the Deepwater Horizon oil spill inear Myrtle Grove Marina near Port Sulphur.
The relentless spill is bringing back feelings that are far too familiar to Robin and others still dealing with the physical and emotional toll wrought by Katrina five years ago.


Share "I can't sleep at night. I find myself crying sometimes," said Robin, of Violet.

Psychiatrists who treated people after Katrina and have held group sessions in oil spill-stricken areas say the symptoms showing up are much the same: Anger. Anxiety. Drinking. Depression. Suicidal thoughts.

"Everybody's acting strange," said Robin, 56. "Real angry, frustrated, stressed out, fighting brothers and sisters and mamas and family."

Fishing families, the backbone of the coastal economy, are especially hard-pressed as the waters that make up their livelihood are sporadically closed because of fears the oil will taint fish, oysters and shrimp.

Oil field workers, whose salaries are among the best the region can offer, worry about their industry's long-term future.

And there is still the rebuilding after Katrina, which in August 2005 devastated a swath from Louisiana to Alabama -- almost as big as the area affected by the oil -- killing more than 1,600 and forever changing the region's relationship with the water.

No one is fishing anymore out of Zeke's Landing Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., though most charter boat captains are making some money pulling boom and doing other jobs in BP's cleanup program.

Looking at oil all day can be harder than staying home, said Joe Nash, a boat captain there. "Seeing everything that you've been used to for years kind of slowly going away from you, it's overwhelming," he said. "Because you can't do anything about it."



William Allen Kruse, charter boat driver, was photographed May 6 beside his boat at Zeke's Landing Marine in Orange Beach, Ala., talking about the effect of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on his business

"Our families want to know what's going on," said Pfeiffer, 55, who keeps two charter boats at Zeke's Landing. "When we get home, we're stressed out and tired, and they want answers and we don't have any."

His wife cries, a lot.

"I haven't slept. I've lost weight," said Yvonne Pfeiffer, 53. "My shoulders are in knots. The stress level has my shoulders up to my ears."

Social services agencies have not seen a significant increase in people seeking help since the spill began, but that doesn't mean the need isn't there, said Jeffrey Bennett, executive director of the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center in Gulfport, Miss., whose state saw oil wash up on the mainland for the first time Sunday.

"Unfortunately, the people most affected, shrimpers and fishermen, are not people who traditionally seek mental health services," Bennett said. "They're kind of tough characters, and look at being depressed or not being able to handle their own problems as weakness."

On Sunday evening, many in Alabama's coastal fishing community planned to attend services for a popular charter captain who committed suicide on his docked boat. Authorities had no way to know whether his death had anything to do with the spill, but they hoped it would move others to seek help.

John Ziegler, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Mental Health, said no one had walked into counseling centers set up in fishing communities since the disaster. Then on Friday, two days after the captain's death, five people came in saying they needed help because of the spill.

As news of the captain's death spread east to Pensacola, Fla., Baptist Health Care's Lakeview Center publicized its 24-hour help line, and several calls about the spill came in the following day.

"People saying they were sad, they were angry, they were grieving, they have lost a lot," marketing director Tish Pennewill said. "Grandmothers talking about how they took the children to the beach for the summer and could no longer do that. People wondering if it was ever going to be the same."

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Old 12-06-2010, 04:29 AM
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Re: Psychological Toll of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Quietly Mounts

I live in Pensacola. The feeling to date is "Fuck fucking BP."

We support the businesses, but we don't buy the gas.

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Old 12-06-2010, 04:33 AM
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Re: Psychological Toll of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Quietly Mounts

GO GREEN!!

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Old 12-06-2010, 04:37 AM
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Re: Psychological Toll of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Quietly Mounts

Thanks Pink, its kinda easy to forget when you are not affected.

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Old 12-06-2010, 04:39 AM
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Re: Psychological Toll of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Quietly Mounts

'''''king hell, I just noticed how old this thread is

Still, my original comment stands.

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