BATON ROUGE, La. - Monday, April 20, marks a decade since the fatal Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded 41 miles off the Louisiana coast, pumping 210 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico, to date the largest man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. Eleven men died.
At the time of the disaster, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser was serving as Plaquemines Parish President and became a vocal advocate for Louisiana's restoration, its residents, and key industries impacted along the Gulf Coast.
"The most difficult challenge we faced in 2010 as a state was learning how to effectively and quickly communicate between local, state, and federal agencies to deal with the multitude of issues no one had ever faced," said Lieutenant Governor Nungesser. "The lives lost, job losses in petrochemical and seafood industries was unprecedented. Since that time, we have learned a tremendous amount about planning for disasters and working together through the unimaginable circumstances we face, becoming more resourceful and resilient in the face of adversity."
An unprecedented cleanup effort followed to restore the coast after the gusher polluted the ocean and coastal ecosystems far beyond the Gulf Coast, devastating marine mammals, seafood, and seabirds in large numbers. Capping the flow of crude oil took more than five months. A moratorium was placed on oil and gas production in the coastal U.S. The cleanup efforts continued for years.
"Every year on April 20, I wake up and say a prayer for the eleven families who lost loved ones in the explosion and for those who were impacted," Nungesser said. "At the time we felt helpless and uncertain. Those were dark days and we emerged wiser and stronger as a result. We are better prepared, and can share knowledge of disaster preparation and recovery with others when needed."
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