One story from one family from one part of the Gulf Coast -- Bayou La Batre, Alabama
BP Oil Well Capped, But Trauma Still Flowing, Morning Edition by Debbie Elliott and Marisa Peñaloza, November 30, 2010:
Feed the Children
"We're out. We only had 800 cards and 800 boxes of groceries," a [Feed the Children] volunteer gently tells those without tickets for the day's goods. ...
No one makes a scene. This is not a place where asking for help comes easily.
"It almost makes you not even want to walk up and ask," says Lena Hofer, 25. "Because of how many times I've had to do this, it's really hard when they send you away after you do, especially when you need it like I do. I'm about to cry. It's hard."
On the Edge
"We are very, very close on the edge of losing everything," says Aaron Hofer, Lena's husband, holding back tears. "But, you know, God feeds the birds. How much more does he love us? I have to tell myself that, like, 100 times a day." ...
Aaron, 27, is a fourth-generation shrimper who lost the lucrative summer season to the BP oil spill. Now the shop where he worked part time picking crab for cash has closed down. The Hofers can no longer pay the rent, have signed up for food stamps, and are bouncing from home to home, staying with relatives.
"It's taken a toll on us. We've split up twice since this happened," Lena says. "We're just now starting to talk and get back together. Because we've lost our place to live, we have lost our vehicle, we have lost our phones." ...
"I lost my job, the boat's broke down," he says. "I'm homeless, my wife is living with my mother-in-law, and I'm living on the boat."
They've lost everything but their children. ...
The pain is raw in Aaron Hofer when he talks about his boys.
"If somebody takes my kids because I can't help myself — I just, I don't know," he says. "It's hard to think about things like that." ...
Since the Hofers lost everything... "They stress out," she says. Her 2-year-old has started biting his fingernails. "And he holds his ears whenever just the stress of life come up. Because he don't even want to hear it, you know, and he's 2. He understands too much."
Harder than Iraq
Aaron Hofer is an Iraq war veteran... His wife says she hardly recognizes the "dog-faced soldier" who never used to let anything get him down.
"He's taking this harder than he took Iraq — and he was at death's door every day over there," she says. "And because of him not being able to make it up out of this rut, it's just taking him down further and further. We have problems. We fight."
That didn't happen before, she says.
Tears rolling down his cheeks, Aaron recalls a recent breakdown: "Oh lord, three weeks ago I had an outburst. I don't know where it came from. I yelled at my wife, her mother. I ended up busting a window."
Listen audio here.