BP Oil Spill: Residents of Marrero, La., Share Their Frustration and Fears

Diane Sawyers town hall in Marrero, Louisiana

While anger continues to grow over BP's failure to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and frustration with the federal response grows, a sense of desperation pervades the communities that dot the Louisiana coastline and depend on healthy fishing waters for their survival.

Marrero, La., located between the Mississippi River and the Jean Lafitte preserve in lower Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, is one of those areas. In Marrero, most families are connected to the fishing industry and may bear the ecological costs of this spill for decades to come.

More of Diane Sawyers Town Hall with Gulf Residen
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Watch 'World News' on ABC tonight for more of Diane Sawyer's Town Hall conversation

Outside the Hosanna Church on Barataria Boulevard, Pastor George McLean has posted a simple message: "Pray for a solution to the oil leak problem."

Inside that church, late Sunday night, ABC's Diane Sawyer gathered with about 40 members of the community to talk with them about their frustrations and fears as oil from the spill continues to invade the fishing waters and marshes of the Gulf Coast.

Fishermen Faced Trouble Before the Spill

The community was already struggling before this spill -- fighting to recover from the hurricanes that have struck the region, and struggling to compete against the cheap, imported seafood that has driven down market prices and shrunk profits. In some ways, community members said, the spill could not have come at a worse time.

VIDEO: Those Affected By the Oil Spill Speak Out
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"For everybody out there that doesn't understand, give them a sense of what it's like to be in the shrimp business," said Sawyer to the group that had gathered.

"We were just starting to make money. We'd only been trawling for two weeks," said one man, who had just been hired by BP to help in cleanup efforts. "Now we're all putting our boats out to work -- we've got to go fight with the oil, go help try and stop it."

Lack of Information on Safe Fishing Waters

Bonnie Gross, whose husband is a commercial fisherman, is a lifelong resident of Lafitte. Gross sold her husband's catch at the market and told Sawyer the fishermen see firsthand the failures of the response and don't have the information they need to do their jobs safely. They also fear that the spill has ruined the vital summer fishing season.

VIDEO: Diane Sawyer holds town hall event for people impacted by the BP oil spill.
Diane Sawyer Holds Town Hall on Oil Spill

"He doesn't want to put out a tainted product," said Gross, noting that her husband depends on the FM radio and information shared among fisherman to avoid oil-tainted waters.

"There's nothing out, there's not boats, no booms, nothing stopping it from coming in," she said. "So now, the areas that they could fish, they can't."

The problem is so vast, it feels to some almost impossible to tackle.

"How can you start a cleanup effort when you haven't stopped the problem?" said one man.

Oil Spill Town Hall: Frustration Builds Over BP and Federal Government

VIDEO: Angered locals sound off at a town hall over financial impact of the oil spill.
Frustration Builds for Residents Over Oil Spill

"We're being invaded not by armies or tanks or ships and troops," but by "this oil that's going to do the same devastation, create the same problems," said Republican State Rep. Patrick Connick, who wants the federal government to cut through the bureaucracy to allow the state to build barriers to hold back the oil.

"It's going to wipe out our communities, wipe out the coast, wipe out the industry, wipe out our livelihoods. So we're going to fight it the best we can, we're not going to give up," Connick said.

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