“What I saw was pretty disturbing,” Hewes, who chairs a special senate committee investigating the oil rig disaster, said of a Friday “fly over” the state coast to assess the damage. “The oil was not everywhere, but where we did see it, it was in vast quantities.
“We’ve been very fortunate, from an ecological standpoint, as a state and community, up to this week,” he continued. “But the oil’s here now and we have to deal with it. Some waters are still open to fish; our restaurants are still open. Economically, there are tar balls all over the state. It’s impacting folks everywhere and our tourism economy is significantly down.”
Since the oil spill, the state’s restaurant and charter fleet businesses have been down 70 percent, Hewes reported.
“It’s going to impact our budget,” he noted. “The Delta and the Gulf Coast are heavily dependent on tourism.”