No Oil in Panama City Beach.
There is no oil in Panama City Beach. Pensacola is receiving oil landfall right now, and we could see some environmental impact in the coming weeks. So far, winds have kept the oil away from our beaches, although westerly winds over the last week began moving it closer our direction. Over the last couple days, the winds had shifted to a more easterly direction moving the oil away from us again, but those winds are expected to change back towards us by weeks end.
We’re on the beach everyday.
Every day we’ve been on the beach taking note of conditions and shooting video of our clean beaches. When and if we have oil here, we’ll be the first to report it. But, we will report it like it is. Our goal is to be sure that you know the exact conditions here so that the truth will be known and hype is eliminated. National media has been killing the perception of our area with their blanket statements that have categorized all of Northwest Florida as being covered in oil, when the reality is that all of Florida’s beaches remain open and tourists are still enjoying our white sand and emerald green waters.
Bay County is ready to clean up.
Currently there are around 100 contracted people walking the beaches of Panama City Beach looking for tar balls or any sign of oil washing up on our shores. DEP and Bay County officials are responding to reports from beach-goers of oil sightings, no oil has been officially documented. If and when oil hits our beaches, there are more than 900 people awaiting deployment to be used to clean up the beaches. The goal is to clean up and keep clean if and when we get hit.
As recently as the day before yesterday, there were 6 dime-sized tar balls reported on the beaches of Camp Helen State Park. All were picked up.
Bay County has plenty of boom, and more on the way.
Listening to Mark Bowen, the Emergency Operations Director, Tuesday at the TDC meeting, he reported that we have over 110,000 feet of boom in Bay County with more coming. Boom is staged on Shell Island, Crooked Island, at the Hathaway Bridge, Grand Lagoon and in a warehouse in downtown Panama City, right down from the Panama City Marina. He said the boom can be deployed within 24 hours if and when we feel oil landfall is eminent.
The question was asked: “Why don’t they deploy the boom now so as to have it ready for when the oil comes?” Good question, here’s the answer, in two parts: Boom is not designed to weather rough seas. It requires maintenance and can break apart if too much pressure is put on it. It does an ok job of temporarily containing the oil for skimming, but has a somewhat short use life. Part two is that it presents a navigational hazard. Vessels are still operating out of our port and marinas. Fisher people are still fishing, dive trips are still happening, commercial boats are still working, and they need to be able to work.
How to stay current with the oil situation in Panama City Beach.
We’ve been doing as much as we can to be sure that you know exactly what’s happening here in Panama City Beach in regards to the oil spill. Here are some of the ways you can stay connected.
- Facebook: facebook.com/pcbdaily
- We are doing live updates as we get them, if anything changes, we tell you here. Go to the page, click the “Like” button on the top and watch for updates.
- Live Video: ustream.tv/channel/pcbdaily
- Every morning at 8:30 am CST we are shooting live from the beach in different areas of Panama City Beach. We have breaking news for that morning and we discuss the current conditions of the beach. Technology willing, we’ll be at the beach each morning Monday through Friday, and Saturday, if possible. You can actually ask me questions via the chat window, I’ll do my best to answer. Please be forgiving if the video quality is poor, I’m doing it from my iPhone on a 3G connection.
- Youtube: youtube.com/pcbdaily
- Every three days we are shooting HD video of the beach with a date stamp along the bottom. The idea is to give you high quality video of what the beach looks like that day. Again, we do this in different areas along the beach. We’ve also been doing this for areas off of 30A.
Here are some phone numbers that may help.
- To report oil or an oil sighting: call 850-249-6030
- To report oil effecting wildlife: call 866-557-1401
- If you want to volunteer, call the Red Cross at 866-448-5816 or email them at oilspill (at) redcrosscpc (dot) org
- Seafood Hotline – updates on the current condition of the seafood coming from the Gulf in Florida: 800-357-4273
Here is some additional information that help you monitor the situation.
- Bay County’s website – continuously updated with relevant links to information
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection daily reports.
- NOAA Oil Spill Trajectories.
- Florida travel advisories
- Kent Wells June 7 technical update.
- Pictures of the cleanup efforts – offshore and onshore.
- Video of the Enterprise Top Cap – the huge ship that’s facilitating the current oil capture (actually, really fascinating)
- Live ROV video streams.
- Latest BP situation maps.
- Florida Beaches condition maps.
- Various frequently asked questions about the oil spill
- Coast Guard illustration of the response