The Oil Slick and Middle TN Floods
Much of western and middle Tennessee was deluged with 4 to 15 inches of rain this weekend and even though it previously been a fairly dry spring, flooding is everywhere--especially in the southern two-thirds of this area which includes Memphis and Nashville. Nashville TV caught the horror of a semi-driver being pulled to safety by a boat Saturday and yesterday may have been worse. Clarksville has also been affected--3 of 4 bridges over the Red River (our secondary river) have been overtopped and only I-24 allows crossing at faster than a snail's pace. Additionally, APSU classes were cancelled; as best as I can remember the first time in my nearly 30 years of teaching that classes were cancelled during finals.
All this said, an even greater natural tragedy is playing out in the Gulf of Mexico, where a oil rig exploded and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf, with doubtlessly massive negative impact on the fishing and tourism industry. As one who favors offshore drilling, I can only find small fault with the Obama administration here (perhaps too willing to lay all the blame at the feet of BP, when unfortunate weather conditions (strong southernly winds) clearly contributed to the problem. I have no idea how to rate the Coast Guard's performance). The slick brings up an example of the tough choices ahead for a country not used to being forced to make them--protect the environment and risk even higher unemployment as well as possibly $5-6 a gallon gasoline or continue and probably expand offshore drilling at the now very real risk of periodic crises such as the present oil slick.