Long known as the seafood capital of Alabama, Bayou La Batre is a small town of approximately 2,500. Over the past decade, foreign imports, the rising cost of diesel fuel, and overfishing have eroded the seafood industry that supports this community. Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, slowed business even further, and the community was just beginning to recover when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April. Now, BP has thrown astonishing amounts of money at this small town, and competition for “free money” pitted community members against each other. Worse still, the drama distracts from the reality of what will happen when the oil money stops, and the community is left without its industry and livelihood. – Reed Young
Above: Paul Nelson is the president of South Bay Community Alliance, a volunteer organization that advocates on behalf of the citizens of Bayou La Batre and Coden. Paul’s home was destroyed in Katrina.
This evening,‘Mired in the Bayou,’ a mixed-medium exhibit, featuring the work of photographers Michael De Pasquale and Reed Young, written narrative and audio by journalist Erin Sheehy, and an installation by artist Graham Holly opens at 99% Gallery and Inhabitat.com. To find out more information about the show click here. To view more of Reed Young’s work click here.
Alan Clark is an oysterman who worked for the BP Vessels of Opportunity program, which offers between $1,200 and $3,000 a day to local boat owners who help with the oil cleanup.
Timmy Chi Tai is a nine-year-old from Bayou La Batre. He works at Boat People SOS, a local non-profit, handing out food during food drives and helping with various tasks around the office.
Ervin (right) a metal scrapper from Coden, is pictured here with Ernest Montgomery (left), the former fire chief of Bayou La Batre. They’ve known each other for over 50 years. Most of Ervin’s customers are commercial fishermen and his business has been suffering ever since the BP oil spill.
Kyong “Kathy” Kim came to the United States from Korea in 1969. Her crab shop in Bayou La Batre, Alabama has been closed since the BP oil spill, and she has no plans to reopen it. She is moving to Mobile and collecting Social Security. Kathy makes beaded sculptures that sometimes sell for as much as $350. She says she is especially attached to her dog Cutie because she has no friends down there.