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Date of Issue: July 07, 2010

Flyover team looks for oil

Bradenton Beach public works director Tom Woodard joined the team conducting a flyover of the Gulf of Mexico July 1.

He returned after a long day over the Gulf with a report for The Islander.

The Islander: You joined a local group on a flyover of the Gulf of Mexico July 1. Was the purpose to verify the all-clear for this part of the coast? Or to see the impact of the oil on the northern coast?

Tom Woodard: We flew on a routine — since the spill began — Coast Guard recon mission to identify any new, spreading or existing locations of oil out into the Gulf that could potentially impact our coast line.

The Islander: Where did the trip take you?

TW: We did fly over the leak site, but not to the northern coast.

The Islander: And what did you see?

TW: Lots and lots of water. Little evidence of oil along our pre-determined flight plan. It seems that Alex had pushed spreading slicks toward the north.

The Islander: You were aboard a military plane or a civilian plane?

TW: A Coast Guard C-130 cargo plane.

The Islander: Who were your co-passengers?

TW: Eight Coast Guard crew, myself, George McKay of the city of Anna Maria, Juan Florensa of the town of Long Boat Key and Steve Simpson of Manatee County Emergency Management.

The Islander: What's the message you came back to the Island with?

TW: I don’t want to downplay the severity of the whole situation, and we all know things can change quickly with storms and currents, but from what we observed so far our coastline appears to be in good shape.

Unfortunately, the northern Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas coastlines are not so lucky. The real victims in this tragedy are the Gulf environment and sea life. The damage that has already been done will take years to overcome.