BP Spill: Beachgoers Flee, Locals Continue to Struggle As More Oil Heads for the Gulf Coast

Every aspect of life in the Gulf of Mexico has changed since the BP oil spill began 63 days ago. Beaches from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle, full with beachgoers last summer, are now empty. The tourists, in many cases, have been replaced by tar balls.

Even the daily routine for residents of the Gulf coast has changed. Now, instead of waking up early to head out on their commercial fishing boats, the residents of Lafitte, Louisiana line up at 3 a.m. -- for grocery vouchers.

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"I could pay my bills before. I could put food on the table, no problem. Now it's a problem," said Marnie Land, a single mother of two.

Land sells seafood for Danny & Bonnie Gros Seafood, but since fishing has been halted due to the oil spill, her hours have been cut in half. Land says she is proud that she never had to ask for help before the spill, but now says she needs help before the spill completely destroys her livelihood -- and her life.

"I can't go to the grocery store like I could before," Land said. "I had to come here for help."

"I should have put aside money to pay my rent but now I don't have it," she said.

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Land has filed a claim with BP, and in return she was sent a single check for $300. Land said that is hardly enough for her to get by on; her rent alone is $600 per month.

Land is one of a growing number of Gulf residents who are now lining up for vouchers and very fearful that those much-needed vouchers will soon run out.

"We know there's a large amount of people," said Shirley Lachman, director of case management services for Catholic Charities, adding that her group is doing their best to help all the families who come looking for help.

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Since May 1, over 13,000 people have received emergency assistance from Catholic Charities, according to their records.

And while there is little faith that the situation will get better soon, there is growing anger over the way some believe the BP is handling the spill.

This past weekend that anger was directed towards BP CEO Tony Hayward, who was seen yachting in the waters off the coast of England. After being criticized by politicians and Gulf locals, today Hayward announced he will not attend an oil conference in London, and says he is "committed to the gulf relief effort."

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That relief effort is getting harder every day. By Friday as much as 7.6 million gallons of oil had leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, bringing the total since the rig explosion to nearly 160 million gallons. The spill is now roughly the size of the state of South Carolina, according to NOAA estimates.

BP says that progress continues to be made to stop the spill through relief wells, but they will not be completed until sometime in August. The first relief well, started on May 2, has reached a measured depth of 15,936 ft and the second relief well, started on May 16, has reached 10,000 ft below the surface.

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