Aug 20, 2010 5:02 PM by Melissa Canone
Baton Rouge (August 20, 2010) - BP took far too long to provide funding for Gulf Coast residents suffering mental-health problems after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, two south Louisiana officials said today.
Andy Kopplin, New Orleans' deputy mayor and chief administrative officer, told a community-planning summit that BP agreed to provide the funding this week, but Gulf Coast states had been asking for such help for months. Kopplin noted that several south Louisiana fishermen have committed suicide since the April 20 rig explosion forced the closure of Gulf fishing grounds.
Michel Claudet, president of Terrebonne Parish, said he's seen a spike in anxiety, anger, depression, substance abuse and domestic violence among his residents.
"I have never seen so many depressed people in my whole life," Claudet said.
Kopplin and Claudet spoke at the Smart Growth Summit in Baton Rouge, an annual gathering of those involved in community planning in Louisiana occurring this week. The summit is organized by the Center for Planning Excellence, a nonprofit organization that facilitates planning processes at multiple community scales.
BP announced Monday that it is providing $52 million to help pay for mental-health services for distressed residents in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The company said the money is intended to help residents connect with providers through a toll-free phone line and outreach programs.
For more information on the Smart Growth Summit, visit http://summit.cpex.org