Nightly News   |  May 28, 2010

Mayor: ‘We need our commander in chief’

Mayor David Camardelle of Grand Isle, La., speaks with NBC's Brian Williams about the crisis his community is facing.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: David Camardelle is the mayor of Grand Isle . He was in that room with President Obama today. You saw him at the event. He's been kind enough to join us tonight from Grand Isle . Mr. Mayor, how heated did it get in that room? What did you tell the president, and do you think you were heard today?

Mayor DAVID CAMARDELLE (Grand Isle, Louisiana): Yes, sir. It wasn't bad at all. We had, between the senators and the representatives there and the parish presidents and the mayors in there, we got to talk one on one across

the table from the president. He was very receptable. He turned around and said he was on the island, he's seen the tar balls and he's seen the photos and -- of the oil, and we told him what was going on in the last four weeks, and we just needed a commander in chief to come in and make some changes where we can deal with an official from BP and also from the Coast Guard .

WILLIAMS: James Carville was saying yesterday, `I hope to goodness they get him out there into the grass, into the cane, and show him that crude oil inside the march -- that -- marsh.' That didn't happen today. In fact, the beach looked pretty clean. Is it true it was cleaned up just before he arrived?

Mayor CAMARDELLE: Yes, sir. We been -- you know, the oil in Grand Isle the last two days was fairly light in that area, but some of the oil came into the

eastern part of the island toward Cooper Belle and......bayous in that area. But you're right, he didn't get to get on a boat, but he spent two hours with us, and I did put a map on the table and told him that we had four passes to block. And he wanted me to get with the admiral and show the admiral what we're -- what exactly we were talking about. And we -- he's going to make sure that we meet pretty quick. The governor did a good job. Everybody that represented Louisiana talking to the president did a great job and told the president his concerns. I was -- I was very impressed with the president because he listened to all of us, and he made sure that his secretaries in that -- was taking notes to make sure they get back with us. You know, we got a conference call with the president at 1:30. And he said, ` Guys , get back online and make sure that any problems -- get back at 1:30 and I'll conference from the White House and tell us what you need.' But I'm going to be honest with you, Brian . You know, he is -- he is -- he's a man with a man with a heart. He seen the frustration through all our faces, and he took us individually, right across the table, just like a family together, and, you know, we told him the needs, and each one of us expressed our needs. And at the same time he would turn to the right, to the left, and he came back and answered us and told us that, `I'm here to represent you. I want to work with you. And, Mr. Mayor, I understand your frustration.' And I had tears in my eyes because the water's what we make a living with. You see my congressman, Charlie , cry and testify in front of Congress . And I been born and raised here, Brian , and between the elected officials, our council and our police chief and all the residents of Grand Isle , we make a living off these waters. You know, between the marinas, the restaurant owners, the shrimp dock that you look at behind me, you know, it's devastating, Brian . And all the waters are closed. I'd have never thought in my lifetime, being the mayor of Grand Isle and -- I told the president that I can handle any hurricanes, but, you know, as far as this, I need his help to help me get somebody to give us the green light so we can make our decisions quick.

WILLIAMS: Well, Mr. Mayor, thank you very much on this big day down in that region for spending time with us. We know that Memorial Day weekend normally would be a bustling place in Grand Isle . We're sorry for your suffering. Perhaps we'll see you down there in a couple of days. The mayor of Grand Isle , Louisiana , David Camardelle with us tonight live.