Cameron Parish is doing what they have done so many times before - preparing for the worst. However, this time it isn’t for a hurricane but rather the oncoming encroachment of oil from the Gulf of Mexico into their marshlands, a fragile ecosystem that has already been devastatingly battered by at least two major hurricanes within the last five years, Rita and Ike.


Cameron Parish is doing what they have done so many times before - preparing for the worst. However, this time it isn’t for a hurricane but rather the oncoming encroachment of oil from the Gulf of Mexico into their marshlands, a fragile ecosystem that has already been devastatingly battered by at least two major hurricanes within the last five years, Rita and Ike.
Louisiana Army National Guard members from the 928th Sapper Company, 769th Engineer Battalion, have been working hard to place and to fill two foot high Hesco Concertainer sections along various points of the Cameron coast.
“The first group came out on Friday to stage the area, leaving supplies. On Saturday, we began some work on the project, but Sunday was the official first day of work,” said 2nd Lt. Paul Mounts.
Since last weekend, between 30 to 35 soldiers have been working on a 2 1/2 mile stretch of land east of Holly Beach and by Thursday afternoon, a half of a mile of it had been completed. Mounts also stated that work on two additional sites had begun on Thursday morning. In the end, the soldiers will have completely installed anywhere from 8 to 10 miles worth of beachfront barriers in various parts of Cameron Parish. To help speed the process along, the soldiers live at Camp Midstream, which is a few miles east of their Holly Beach project site, near the Cameron ferry.
“We hope to have the work done in the next week or so depending on weather and equipment,” said Mounts.
The sites chosen were low-lying areas or spots washed out by hurricanes, places where water from the Gulf of Mexico easily crosses over the roadways into the marshlands.
“It is not uncommon for water to go over roadways in these places at high tide with currents touched by southeasternly winds,” said Clifton Hebert, Director, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Cameron Parish.
Areas chosen include Holly Beach and Johnson Bayou, as well an area between the two and places south of the Cameron Jetty Pier.
The barrier wall consists of linked baskets, which, according to Hebert, are made from the same felt-like materials used in road beds during construction, filled with sand brought in from area sandpits. They are made to withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions, tropical storm or hurricane conditions notwithstanding.
Cameron’s OHSEP made the request for the barrier as a preventative measure. The Coast Guard approved the project, ordered materials and coordinated with the Louisiana Army National Guard for staging and installation. BP foots the bill.
In the eastern part of Cameron Parish, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is preparing to employ booms for combating the oil encroachment. Hebert stated that officials were currently in the process of setting up a staging area. He cautioned that no booms will be dropped until 72 hours before the oil-contaminated waters’ estimated time of arrival.
To report oil on the shore or other information regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the BP Horizon line is 866-448-5816 or visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com. For submitting alternative response technology, services or product, call 281-366-5511; to submit your vessel for the Vessel of Opportunity Program, call 281-366-5511. Reporting of oiled wildlife can be done through 866-557-1401.
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For more information about the Hesco Concertainer units, visit www.hesco.com