June 17, 2010 -- Amid the hardship and devastation of the oil spill, some Louisiana locals are diving into the cleanup and unearthing a goldmine, earning the nickname "spillionaires."
Steve Young is trucking portable toilets -- 130 of them -- to a new BP housing complex erected this week in Venice, La. He isn't a millionaire yet but he hopes to be, and he has 500 more toilets ready to go.
"We are probably doing double or triple what we normally do in a month like this," said Young, the owner of Event Restroom.
In the frenzy to mop up the oil spill, now is in its 59th day, BP has thrown more than $1.5 billion into the labor-heavy response. Its local logistics manager has enlisted more than 200 contractors in this parish alone.
Contractor JD Futch is supervising a mini city of temporary housing units in Venice, which this week becomes home to 1,000 cleanup workers -- tripling the parish's population.
Futch currently has 500 locals on his payroll. He used to have 11.
"It's a substantial contract [from BP]," Futch said. "One of the biggest, yes, without a doubt. To be quite honest, things were tough. ... Our economy down here was very tough."
Now his team is working on nearly 12 different sites.
All this activity makes lodging on this 40-mile spit of land that runs along the Mississippi River, the hardest hit by the spill, very hard to come by.
At the Lighthouse Lodge in Venice, BP has booked giant blocks of rooms months in advance.
"I'm totally booked for six months," said Stephanie Cubbage, an assistant manager of the Lighthouse Lodge. "As long as it takes for them to clean the oil, we will be booked."
For others, however, turning a profit has been slow and unreliable.
Jesse Morris should be on his shrimp boat. Instead he poured his life savings into a sandwich business called Cajun Unlimited, hoping to feed BP's multitude.
"We risked all," he said. "All' cause everything was at risk. We put this building up so we could build the box lunches for BP. They used me initially but it's an up and down. No contract. I work one day, but I might not work the next."
Oil Spill Cleanup Turns Hardworking Locals Into Spillionaires
Today there was no work for Morris. "The building itself cost me $100,000 to get on site and get it put up. ... Plus all the rest of the stuff. ... Inventory, boxes, bringing my extra workers."
"There is no plan B. This is it. We will put it up for sale if we have to. We don't wanna do that. We grew up here. I am fourth-generation fisherman," he said.
Joe Rodriguez of BP says the company still needs people to help.
Event Restroom's Young is trying to do his part. "This will be great business not only for us, but for the manufacturers, all the support people that provide chemicals, the toilet paper, the hand towels."
"I've had to pull people in from out of state. It's been a read good influx of busienss for our staff, for our employees, for everyone," he said.