Tropical Storm Karen washes up tarballs - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Tropical Storm Karen washes up tar balls

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)

GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) - Life is returning to normal on Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island.

Monday, a parade of boats netted loads of shrimp just off the coast of Grand Isle.

Just when you though it was safe to say Tropical Storm Karen came and went without a fuss, islanders found their beach covered in tar balls.

"When the Gulf waters stir up the bottom, it breaks apart on these rocks," said Grand Isle Street Supervisor Chris Hernandez pointing to a line of rock jetties just of the beach. "Next thing you know, (tar balls) are washing ashore."

Hernandez says BP tar balls have been washing up on the beach since the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Every time storm season comes you can expect this to happen. We saw it last year. We saw it the year before. Throughout the storms since then. Before the oil spill, you never seen this before."

Town officials walked the beaches with the Coast Guard over the past two days. The Coast Guard identified the tar balls as being residual material from the BP spill and instructed the company to remove the tar balls from the entire seven miles of beaches in Grand Isle.

"You probably could pick up 2,000 pounds of tar balls, just today," said Hernandez. "Probably come back tomorrow or the next little front you'll pick it up again."

BP spokesman Jason Ryan says Monday, there were 48 crew members picking up tar balls in the Grand Isle area. He says that number is expected to double on Tuesday.

"In Louisiana, the tar balls are in areas where cleanup operations were ongoing," said Ryan. "As the storm approached, operations were suspended. Operations are now resuming and cleanup activities have begun. We have repeatedly demonstrated our ability to respond quickly following severe weather, and we are prepared and ready to do the same after this storm."

Karen also caused some erosion on the west side of Grand Isle.

Storm surge chewed up the beach and washed sand off the burrito levees installed for protection after past storms.

Dudley Clark who was visiting from Ponchatoula says he was surprised to see the damage.

"There was a very minor wind shear coming across here," said Clark. "It took a lot damage.

Really, the only thing left down there is the burritos that they packed the sand in there with and wrapped it with the highway mesh and everything."

Islanders say they'll assess the damage, fix it as best they can and give thanks that Karen didn't leave more of a mess on their piece of paradise.

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