GRAND ISLE, LA: President Obama came to Louisiana for the second time in a week to view first-hand the damage caused by the BP oil spill. He started his visit in New Orleans where he met with state and local officials of the areas affected by the disaster. Sitting along side Admiral Thad Allen, the President addressed the most recent efforts to stop the oil and gas gushing from BP's oil well. He said "it does appear that the cap, at least for now, is holding; that some hydrocarbons are being sent up to the surface; and that they are still ratcheting up the amount of oil and gas that's being extracted -- they're doing it carefully so that they don't dislodge or disrupt the cap in some fashion. We will know more over the next 24 to 48 hours. And it is way too early to be optimistic. But we're just going to keep on monitoring it."
But the concerns about what happens next persist including the way in which BP has handled the oil spill. The President questioned the use of BP's time and money during the disaster. "The fact that BP can pay a $10.5 billion dividend payment is indicative of how much money these folks have been making," Mr. Obama told reporters traveling with him in Louisiana. "Given the fact that they didn't fully account for the risks, I don't want somebody else bearing the costs of those risks that they took. I want to make sure that they're paying for it."
Upon arriving in Grand Isle, LA, a small 8-mile long island from whose coast more than 30 oil rigs can be counted for in the distance, the President met with residents, an oyster fisherman, and local small business owners. Grand isle is dotted with houses along the beach that many families rent for their summer reprieve. Shrimp and oysters are rich in this area, providing a source of income for many families. But with the oil disaster in its 46th day, the loss of jobs and livelihood is looming heavily over the residents here. Something the President noted. "They've got a bunch of shrimp on ice that they're selling inventory but they're not bringing any new product in. And BP says to them, well your sales don't seem to incline. They try to explain yeah, but we had to lay off all our workers because we're not bringing any new shrimp in. Our coverage is going to be bare in the next several weeks. BP's got to be able to anticipate that," said the President.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana National Guard continues to put up the so-called "tiger dam" which is a series of orange rubber tubes, filled with sea water and stacked in a pyramid of three behind a wall of sand to prevent the high tide from bringing up the oil balls to the beach. Heavy rain and wind stopped the work for a couple of hours Friday, but the crews picked up as soon as it subsided. A Louisiana National guard media representative told Fox News that the crew have been working 24 hours a day, in 12-hour shifts. Huge flood lights are now visible along the beach where the guardsmen are making slow, but steady progress.
The President was in Louisiana for several hours Friday before returning to Washington.
Fox News Washington Producer Shayla Bezdrob wrote this report from Grand Isle, Louisiana.