June 14, 2010— -- Eight weeks into the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of the Mexico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has told the National Guard that there's no time left to wait for BP, so they're taking matters into their own hands.
In Fort Jackson, La., Jindal has ordered the Guard to start building barrier walls right in the middle of the ocean. The barriers, built nine miles off shore, are intended to keep the oil from reaching the coast by filling the gaps between barrier islands.
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Today, huge Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters lined up in the air, dropping sandbags one by one into the sea.
"They are lifting up about 7,000 pounds of sandbags," said 1st Lt. James Tyson Gabler.
The authorities say they're keeping a tab on the cost of the project and will send a bill to BP, adding to a huge list of claims from the spill zone.
BP says that it has paid out $62 million in claims so far, about half of the 51,000 applications that have been filed. The average amount for a fisherman or a deckhand is $2,500, a fraction of what they would have earned in the eight weeks since the spill started.
Today, though, even President Obama acknowledged during his visit to the region that the claims process is not working. People are waiting for checks and struggling with paperwork.
"There are still problems with [the claims]," Obama said at a press conference. "We're gathering up facts, stories right now so that we have an absolutely clear understanding about how we can best present to BP the need to make sure that individuals and businesses are dealt with in a fair manner and in a prompt manner."
Obama will meet with BP chairman Tony Hayward this week, and he has already asked BP to create an escrow fund to cover claims, monitored by an independent third party.
But even as Hayward answers the president's questions, uncertainty flows along the Gulf Coast as freely as the oil. Many Gulf Coast residents and concerned citizens have written ABC News, asking for information.
One frequently-asked question: Where do authorities take oil that is skimmed off the water or cleaned up from beaches?
The globs of oil scooped off the sand on shore are being hauled by truck to landfills in three states in the south. The 20 million gallons of oily water that's been collected from the Gulf remains stored on barges, and there's no word yet on when they'll try to separate out the oil and take it away.
At the site of the leak, BP promises that it will be able to corral some 53,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of June, but critics say that won't be enough. They argue that more than 60,000 barrels are leaking out every day, and they believe that the end of June is a pipe dream.
As for the relief wells that promise a final solution to the spewing leak? BP says that the wells are on track, already dug 2.7 miles below the sea floor with one more mile to go. The first relief well could come on line at the beginning of August.