The poison of sea salt
The flooding in Vermilion Parish became something I could touch and feel today. You pick up a leaf, a twig, anything on the ground that was covered by more than 24 feet of water, and white powder flakes off. That powder is sea salt, other minerals, toxic sludge and who knows what else was in the water, and it dried on everything... Grass, rice fields, houses, fence posts, dead animals, everything. It's annoying, it looks like snow on farm fields, and it well and truly kills everything green it touches, perhaps for years. It will take huge amounts of rain to dilute the poison enough to let crops grow or to let cattle graze. With no crops and nothing to feed cattle, you don't make any money, and you go out of business. Unfortunately, usually a family business.
Tonight we head to the sea. The Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana have had a love-hate relationship since statehood. We all love what comes from the sea and what the coast offers. We hate it when the sea turns angry. What most of us don't realize, and you really cannot see, was what a hurricane does to the ocean, just offshore. Tons of silt, debris and other things toxic to sea life are churned up and left on the bottom of the ocean. You can't see any of that. But for the people who make a living from the sea, the scar on the ocean itself can be devastating. Thursday we'll talk with fishermen and oystermen, who can tell us what Katrina and Rita did to them.
Read more from After the Storm: The Long Road Back, Al Henkel
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