Nightly News   |  June 14, 2010

Local officials brace for oil onslaught

As cleanup crews try to stay ahead of oil coming ashore along the Gulf Coast, local government leaders are increasingly critical of BP and the federal government for failing to skim the oil before it hit the beaches. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

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MARK POTTER reporting: This is Mark Potter in Pine Beach , Alabama , where tar balls and oil washed ashore on the morning tide in front of the vacation rental homes. Nicole Hudakof and Joy Keelan came here from Canada and Kentucky for a family holiday.

Unidentified Woman: I'm very sad about it, and I'm sad to think of what we're doing to the environment here.

POTTER: In Orange Beach , Alabama , even more oil washed into Perdido Pass , sliding under booms placed to stop the oil from reaching the sensitive shorelines in Perdido Bay . The mayor of this town, hit hard by oil over the weekend, wants to take over the cleanup effort, but with BP still paying for it.

Mayor TONY KENNON (Orange Beach, Alabama): We want local control. We want the federal government out of our hair, leave us alone, but make sure BP stays in town and keeps the checks coming. That's what we want the federal government to do.

POTTER: As cleanup crews try to stay ahead of oil coming ashore, officials here are increasingly critical of BP and the federal government for failing to skim the oil before it hit the Gulf Coast beaches.

Senator BILL NELSON (Democrat, Florida): When I called Mobile and said, `How many boats have you got out off of Florida right now?' they could not give me an answer.

POTTER: With residents and hotels here losing most of their tourist business and rental homes vacant now, local leaders want BP to fully compensate residents before they lose everything.

Mayor ROBERT CRAFT (Gulf Shores, Alabama): My quick analogy to BP and everybody I can talk to at BP is life support is cheaper than a funeral, because funerals are permanent. And that's what's going to happen.

POTTER: But the biggest concern is all the runaway oil still offshore and where it's headed next. In fact, every day in this region local governments send up their own planes now to look for oil in the Gulf of Mexico as they try to plan and allocate resources for that next landfall of oil. Lester :

HOLT: Mark Potter reporting tonight from Orange Beach , Alabama . Mark , thanks.