June 28, 2010— -- Just weeks ago, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour claimed that oil was not a big threat to the people of the Gulf Coast. Now, with oil hitting his state's beaches for the first time since the start of the BP spill, the Republican governor says his state isn't prepared for the spill and needs more help.
Earlier in June, Barbour said, "Once [oil] gets to this stage, it's not poisonous," though he said it probably wasn't a good idea to brush one's teeth with it.
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With black gobs of oil now sullying Mississippi's white beaches, the governor is taking a more serious tone, asking for more resources to combat the problem he had dismissed.
"We have to be honest with the public. Right now we don't have enough skimming capacity if everything that's off our shores continues going north," Barbour said.
On day 70 of the spill, local officials say they're sorely lacking in supplies to fight the oil. The mayor of Ocean Springs, Miss. told ABC News they're not seeing the response they need from state and federal officials to an urgent problem.
When told that significant amounts of oil were hitting shore, authorities "didn't react at all," said Mayor Connie Morgan. "They said there's more oil than boats."
Along the Mississippi coast, that oil is derailing families' beach plans and threatening the state's vital tourism industry.
"It's a lot worse than I thought it would be," said Mike Brown, who took his three young daughters to a Mississippi beach today, only to find it closed. "The place where we go to get away from it all, can't go there anymore."
After a beach trip yesterday, Brown's daughter Kendall was smothered in oil they described as "goopy."
In places where the oil is already getting through, the spill is already taking its toll on Mississippi wildlife. Some pelicans photographed today had brown underbellies. They're usually white in color.
Heavy Seas from Alex Could Complicate Cleanup
Far south of the Mississippi shore, Tropical Storm Alex stewed just west of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula today. Alex is projected to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before it makes landfall later this week near the Texas-Mexico border.
Alex is mercifully projected to land far away from the site of the BP spill, but the storm could certainly still interfere with cleanup efforts. Forecasters anticipate that Alex will churn up heavy seas, making containment booms useless against the oil until the waters calm again. Booms are currently the first line of defense against the encroaching oil.
The storm could sideline oil skimming boats and bring cleanup to a standstill, though it's not likely to interfere with BP's oil capture efforts at the site of the leak. The containment system is now capturing nearly 1 million gallons of crude per day from the leak, which the government believes could be leaking up to 2.5 million gallons a day.
BP and the federal government say that the storm will also not affect the drilling of relief wells that promise to fully stop the leak.
"We are watching very, very closely," said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the leader of the government's oil spill response. "As it stands right now, absent the intervention of a hurricane, we're still looking at mid-August" to complete the relief well.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.