Gulf resorts, beachfronts nearly empty

ISLAND, Miss. — Resorts and beachfronts from Florida to Louisiana were nearly
empty this Independence Day weekend as Gulf of Mexico oil washed ashore and
amid seafood scares.

“This is
the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” Cassie Cox told the Los Angeles Times
after renting only a dozen umbrellas to beachgoers in West Ship Island, Miss.

“Last year
at this time, we had more than 1,000 people here,” she told the newspaper.

In some gulf
coast areas, tourist bureaus, rental agents, condo owners and other officials
said vacation bookings were down as much as 80 percent, the Times said.

officials in Pensacola, the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, warned
against swimming in the gulf, or even walking on the beach, because of tar
balls in the surf.

A once-popular
beach on Alabama’s Dauphin Island, near Mobile, was converted into a staging
area for oil-cleanup crews.

Fishing was
banned along the entire Mississippi coastline.

“A lot of
people are scared,” said Brandi Bryant, 37, who works at a Westwego, La.,
seafood stall along the Mississippi River near New Orleans.

“They ask
us all day long if there’s oil or dispersant on the shrimp,” the Times
quoted her as saying. “I tell them the Board of Health comes here and we
couldn’t sell it if it was bad.”

By contrast,
hotels in New Orleans were packed, and bars in the city’s French Quarter were
jammed, with tens of thousands of conventioneers and vacationers, the Times

BP PLC said
Sunday it recovered 25,195 barrels, or more than 1 million gallons, of oil
Saturday, bringing the total number of barrels recovered since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
exploded April 20 to 585,400, or nearly 25 million gallons.

A U.S.
government panel estimated June 15 the amount of oil flowing from BP’s damaged
well was as much as 60,000 barrels, or 2.5 million gallons, a day.