On the pristine white beaches of the northern Gulf there is now a giant cloud-the oil-lurking just off shore and on the minds of everyone here.
Resident Bill Lins said, “We’re literally going hour by hour as opposed to before, it was it’s not going to happen for weeks.”
But with oil now spotted just seven miles from here, there is a feeling that the vacation may soon be over.
Work has already started in the bays and estuaries-laying boom to protect fragile shorelines, while on the rougher waters of the Gulf, officials fear there is little that can be done to boom the beaches.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist said, “Our state resources have determined that the oil sheen, with it, are thousands of tar balls. Skimmers have deployed near Pensacola.”
Hundreds of miles away and one mile beneath the surface, robotic subs are continuing work for the cut and cap, after work hit a snag on Wednesday.
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen said, “The saw got stuck, not unlike if you were sawing through a piece of wood and every once in a while it binds up.”
They now hope to finish the slice, but plans may change again.
“We’d like to optimize that and be able to put what we call a top cap on it. If we don’t get as clean a cut as we want, then we’ll put something called a top hat over it, which is a little wider fitting, but you have an increased chance that some oil will come out around the sides,” said Allen.
Any oil is too much to bear for those now awaiting its arrival knowing it could ruin much more than vacation plans.