A Recurring Nightmare

After a decade of catastrophes—Katrina, BP—this family is saying good-bye to a beloved bayou home.

Photo: Sarah Craig

In 2010, NRDC partnered with StoryCorps and Bridge the Gulf to tell stories of people living through the Deepwater Horizon disaster. As the five-year mark approaches, onEarth revisited Gulf residents for an update. Second of four parts.

Kindra and David Arnesen were living the bayou dream until the one-two punch of a hurricane and oil spill knocked their world for a loop. First, in 2005, Katrina smashed into their small fishing town of Buras, 70 miles south of New Orleans, destroying their house and leaving the town in ruins. Five years later, another disaster made landfall—a seemingly never-ending tide of BP oil and chemical dispersants. The couple blames the BP spill for forcing them to leave the fishing grounds they once loved and depended on for a living.

“We went from possibly the richest body of water in the world, as far as seafood goes, to a desert,” says David, who has been a shrimper and deep-sea fisherman for most of his life.

A half-decade on, and the Arnesens say they are still waiting for BP to compensate them for lost wages and damages to their fishing business. They fear their town’s once-robust fishery will never return to normal and scoff at the oil company’s ad campaign that says otherwise.

But most worrisome are the health problems they say are afflicting their two children and many other members of their community. Says Kindra, “There is no end or beginning to this recovery, because we aren’t in a recovery. We learned to live sick.”

After Katrina, the couple rebuilt their house. After the oil disaster, they put it up for sale. There have been no takers. Listen to their story below.


onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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