Spill won’t just affect coast

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day 2010 taught me many things. I learned I could still enjoy a family trip to the beach. I learned I’m still a master of putt-putt golf.

Much more seriously, I had the opportunity to sit with an uncle on a hotel balcony, looking out at the Gulf of Mexico, and talk with him about his experiences aboard the USS St. Paul in the Korean War.

We also talked about what Alabama’s beautiful beaches might look like in the weeks, months and years to come as oil from the underwater spill inches toward the shore. And then I wondered if the problem would be contained to the Gulf area.

On our way back home, as has long been a family tradition, we stopped at Peach Park for ice cream. Judging by the crowd, my family is probably not the only that makes the stop a regular one.

Many of the patrons at Peach Park, with their vehicles packed with luggage, looked like they were headed to or from the beach. If Alabama beaches cease to be desirable places to visit, how many of these people will also stop visiting Peach Park? Durbin’s?

Those are only two businesses, but the peaches (and other fruits and vegetables) grown all over the county are also sold by the interstate and are popular with people passing through.

The lasting image of the Gulf oil spill might turn out to be our once-white and crowded beaches covered in black instead of people, but the impact of the disaster will be felt far away from the shoreline.