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Gulf oil spill: Grand Isle prepares for Obama, Memorial Day weekend

May 27, 2010 |  6:43 pm


Its sands tinted with oil, Grand Isle State Park on Thursday was bustling with Memorial Day weekend activity, but from a different type of visitor.

The National Guard, along with other emergency response personnel, prepared for a Friday visit from President Obama by placing an orange Tiger Dam late Thursday afternoon. Others took samples of water and surveyed the shoreline.

Tamara Augustine, the park manager, said she's been busy at the admission gate, but mainly with the media and others there for the oil spill.

The campgrounds were sprinkled with visitors. Russ Kramp enjoyed a late-afternoon nap in the shade, a book facedown on his lap.

He and his wife, Cindy, of Sarasota, Fla., are on a cross-country trip in their camouflage RV and decided to stop at Grand Isle along the way.

Russ Kramp, 65, a retired small-business owner, said he's not upset that he can't fish or swim in the beaches, which are only hundreds of feet from his campground. "These things happen," he said.

After hearing that the "top kill" operation was going according to plan so far, he smiled in his chair. "See, my God, the world's saved," he shouted. "We're saved!"

Jamie Gancheaux, a bartender at Sand Dollar Marina, said she decided to get creative when tar balls started washing up on the Louisiana shores. She decided to make "tar ball shots," out of Jagermeister and grape Jell-O. She said, as a TV newscast on Obama's upcoming visit murmured in the background, that the creative process took her two hours.

"I'm going to make an oil-slick daiquiri soon," she said with a laugh.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz, in Louisiana

Photo: Members of the Louisiana National Guard, including Pfc. Montrell Baker, 19, set up a water-filled boom, called a Tiger Dam, along Grand Isle State Beach. They started filling the boom Thursday morning. President Obama is likely to visit the area Friday. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times