Gulf Coast syndrome

Just heartbreaking. Go read the whole thing:

“We wanted to be proactive and go out there and get it cleaned up as fast as we can, and do whatever it takes,” remembers charter boat captain Louis Bayhi, who worked for BP in the early days of the disaster. When his crew made it to shore, he went through a triage tent where doctors asked how he was feeling — but his complaints of headaches were brushed off as seasickness, he says.

Months later, Bayhi still hasn’t been paid the $255,000 he says he’s owed for his work in Vessels of Opportunity, a BP-administered program wherein private boat-owners assisted with cleanup efforts. He’s visited hospitals for severe abdominal pains, but he doesn’t have health insurance, and no insurance provider will take him on, he says. He lost his home, and he and his family — his wife and his 2- and 3-year-old daughters — now live with his wife’s grandmother. The family visited Grand Isle beaches in August, where his kids swam in the water and played in the sand.

“My little girls now have more toxins in their blood than I have. That hurts more. I blame myself,” he says, fighting back tears. “I let them go and swim and play in the beach, but at the same time those sons of bitches said it was safe.”

Bayhi’s story is not uncommon for many living on the Gulf Coast.

One of the first “whistleblowers” in south Louisiana, Kindra Arnesen, a fisherman’s wife in Plaquemines Parish, became a public face of mysterious diagnoses and chemical exposure symptoms last summer. Others have come forward, like 22-year-old Paul Doom from Navarre, Fla., who says he swam in the Gulf last summer and now experiences daily seizures and is in a wheelchair following a stroke — with hundreds of doctors he has seen unable to explain why.

Clayton Matherne is a former professional wrestler of 15 years, and at 295 pounds, he looks it. Yet Robichaux says, “When I first met him, he was dying. Literally dying.”

Matherne was an engineer on a support boat near the Deepwater rig when it exploded, and says crews sprayed dispersants directly on top of him. Matherne wasn’t provided a respirator. Since May 30, 2010, he’s suffered paralysis, impaired vision and severe headaches, and he frequently coughs up blood.

“I don’t know why things are happening like this,” he says through tears in a YouTube video dated March 25. “But it seems to get worse and worse every day. … It’s driving me crazy. … I laid in bed last night and prayed that God would just let me die, you know. I’m tired of suffering, you know. I’m tired of watching my family suffer.”

Matherne’s wife Becky says her parents are supporting the family, now that they’ve lost their house. She says she and her husband have been approved for a home through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

One thought on “Gulf Coast syndrome

  1. Well, Obama told the people of Joplin that the govnment will be with them “all the way.”

    To bankruptcies? Or to actual rebuilding? Rebuilding only for those with the money to do on their own? Support them the way Katrina victims were “supported” and lots of New Orleans blacks dispersed out of state? Last I saw any in depth reporting, the Ninth Ward is still mostly not rebuilt. But, then again, there hasn’t been much reporting on NOLA lately, so maybe I’m wrong.

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