Diverse Community of the Bayou Laments Life After Oil Leak

BP Oil Spill: Lafitte Bayou Fears What Incoming Oil Could Do to Community

For the people of the Louisiana bayou and Cajun territory, the water of the Gulf of Mexico is not just a way to make a living, it is their history.

Diane Sawyer of "World News" visited several towns in this part of Louisiana to speak with residents and hear how they were adjusting after the oil leak as BP awaited the results of testing on a new cap.

Click HERE to see the journey "World News" took on our map.

VIDEO: Life on the Bayou
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Grand Bayou, Louisiana

Betty Reyes' husband, Raymond, is a fisherman but now he is working for BP.

"Raymond's out in the Gulf right now, looking for oil. They're running around looking for oil," she said.

She and her neighbors said that they were told the seafood was safe to eat, but they were still wary.

"They saying our fishing is good so we can go ahead and August, we'll hope it'll [the Grand Bayou Canal] open up [to fishing] again. We hoping, the shrimp and the crab. Yeah, it's all good."

VIDEO: BP Tries Its New Oil Cap
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She and the other women said they had to forgo their favorite weekend cookout of shrimp boil -- mounds of shrimp, crab, corn and potatoes -- because of the possible dangers from the oil leak.

"We have to eat other things, yes. We're having to eat beef and pork and chicken for our meats," one neighbor said.

Betty's brother Dwight Reyes said he made his living on his boat.

"That's my home," he said. "I go out every night and come back in every morning."

He has been a shrimper for 25 years and said he did not think he could start over.

"I'm too old to do anything right now," he said. "I'm going to be 64 years old and that's too old to learn at something new."

VIDEO: Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen on "World News"
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He received two checks for $5,000 each from BP as part of the company's effort to help out-of-work fishermen. With his boats, house and groceries, he said, his monthly bills amount to $1,500.

"I'm caught up with it, but next month, I ain't going to be caught up with it," Reyes said.

Like his sister Betty, he said he hoped the canal would be reopened for August so he and the other fishermen could fish and make money.

For now, he said he and other fishermen were bringing in shrimp and money. "We do most of our work in here [the canal]. We don't go too far off."

VIDEO: Gulf Residents Want Their Money
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"We go out. We catch whatever we can. We fill the box up. We go selling. We go back out again. Some nights you make $1,000. Some nights you make more than that. It all depends on where the shrimps run. ... What kind of weather we have."

Point a la Hache, Louisiana

Point a la Hache, La., was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, but its residents say the BP oil spill is much worse.

Villahfo Medjukovic, an oyster fisherman, came to Louisiana from Croatia 20 years ago, when he was just 6 years old. He took up fishing, which is what his great-grandfather did. He said he used to bring back hundreds of pounds of oysters. On Monday, there were just two living oysters -- the rest had died. Medjukovic could not see any oil or dispersant.

VIDEO: Diane Sawyer reports from Louisiana on the BP oil spill.
Behind the Scenes With Diane Sawyer in the Gulf

Stanley Encalade, Medjukovic's fishing partner, has lived here his entire life. He said it was hard to sleep these days.

"We're not accustomed to food stamps and all that," he said. "Whatever we caught, we ate."

"Some people you can give them a billion dollars and they are content. They don't care what they lose or whatever," he said. "Our lifestyle was not based on a billion dollars. Our lifestyle was based on growing up on the bayou."

Now Encalade and others fear that way of life is gone forever.

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