Restaurateurs, hotel owners, fishermen and beachfront property owners watched and waited for the weather and ocean currents to determine where a bulk of the oil from a calamitous Gulf of Mexico spill would finally wash ashore.
The consequences of the 200,000 gallons a day of crude spewing from a blown-out underwater well on those whose livelihoods rely on the richness of the sealife in the waters was obvious. Fishing has been shut down in federal waters from the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle, leaving boats idle Monday in the middle of the prime spring season. A special shrimping season will close Tuesday evening.
Inns and restaurants that count on tourists attracted to the beautiful blue-green waters and sandy white beaches already are getting calls about the spill, which has flirted with the coastlines before receding, mostly because of the weather.
"You mentally want to push it back to the west, and then you feel guilty for doing so," said Jan Grant, manager at the St. George Inn on St. George Island, Fla., about the path the spill might take.
Engineers from BP PLC have failed to invent a solution to halt the gusher that's been spewing into the sea since an offshore drilling platform blew up and sank last month and killed 11 workers. BP operated the rig that was owned by Transocean Ltd.