Coastal communities prepare for an oil invasion - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coastal communities prepare for an oil invasion

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - At this hour, the massive oil slick is bearing down on our coastline. State and local leaders, environmentalists, scientists and volunteers spent the last few days working hand in hand with British Petroleum to deal with the impending threat of this coastal crisis.

Governor Barbour declared a state of emergency Friday and many cities did the same.

"We had a meeting with the Biloxi City Council to declare a state of emergency for the City of Biloxi," Mayor A.J. Holloway said.

At that special council meeting, Biloxi resident Terese Collin, who is working with the Department of Environmental Quality, told council members there are three things going on right now to stop the flow of oil.

"There are two wells being drilled. One is a real well, one is a backup if it fails. That might take two to three months to drill. The other thing they're doing is building a funnel, more or less, to drop over the spill itself to contain it and bring a pipe to the surface."

But those fixes are days, weeks, maybe even months away. What to do now to protect our coastline is the question local leaders are grappling with.

"This is kind of as we go along we have to make a plan, because we had no contingency plan for this," Holloway said.

The unknown and the timing of this is what worries Waveland's Mayor Tommy Longo.

"Until they get those wells sealed off, the oil will continue to come and this couldn't be a worse time for the environment or our tourism season," Longo said.

And the first place most tourists flock to is the beach. Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver said they have barricades in place in case they need to close off the beach and they're putting their clean up plan in place now.

"Our efforts right now is that we make sure we mirror up with the BP officials, those that are going to be assigned the responsibility of cleaning the beach, if there were to be a product that comes on shore," Weaver said.

Scientists at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is Gulfport are coordinating ways to remove dolphins and other marine life from the polluted water to treat them. Mayor Holloway thinks in many ways, what this massive slick does now is out of human hands.

"All we can do now is just say a prayer," Holloway said.

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