POSTED: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 11:56am
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 10:19pm
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser has been on the front lines of the Crisis on the Coast since day one. He's spoken out against BP, the Coast Guard, even members of congress - all in an attempt to save his parish.
One year later, Nungesser says there’s been some progress over the past year, but there’s a lot of work left to do. In Venice, in the marshes, and in checkbooks all across the parish.
“Reality’s setting in,” he said when the crisis started, when he was met with lots of roadblocks and frustration - from not getting equipment, to cleaning up the oil in the marsh, to getting the parish money to restore the coast.
Nungesser blamed BP then, and that frustration hasn’t gone away.
“Every day I hope BP will say we don't need to go to court - here's a check we're gonna make louisiana whole,” Nugesser said. “We're gonna let you get your life back, like Tony Heyward wanted his life back.”
And today, oil cleanup workers and just as important, tourists, are nowhere in sight. Shrimp boats aren’t moving, hotels are empty, and marinas that should be bustling with activity are quiet.
“We shouldn’t be able to have this interview,” he said when describing how busy he should be with the day-to-day operations of a thriving parish. “It went blank all at once, so now it's gonna be a job to get the people back to fishing - let ‘em know the seafood’s okay - the fishing’s never been better.”
So while the oil may be out of the water, the parish is still struggling one year later, and Nungesser says that’s far from unacceptable. He wants his parish back, and he wants the company responsible to make it happen.
“We just want it whole,” he pleaded. “We want the fishermen made whole. We want to know that the dispersants doesn't have a long term effect. We wanna know these men and women that worked the cleaned get checked out to see if there’s any issues.”
Despite what he calls interference by BP, Nungessers’ determined to bounce back.
"Failures not an option. The people of Louisiana are great people. We'll get it back. We'll come back bigger and better and stronger with or without BP's help.”
Nungesser says this crisis brought all the coastal leaders together. He says they all have a common goal and are working as hard as they can to get it done.
Join Andrew Capasso tonight on NBC33 at 6:30 p.m. for this report and many more from the continued Crisis on the Coast: One Year Later.