Yet the mood on Grand Isle is one of pervasive angst. Hurricanes come and go and people here are used to rebuilding, but in these drawn-out weeks of suspense, residents have little to do but wait. Many worry that the worst of the BP oil spill has yet to arrive. Fish and crab catches are down in some areas. And storms shake up stagnant oil, washing weathered tar patties ashore as reminders of the "disappeared" oil that the vast majority of islanders believe has settled to the bottom, ready to be stirred up by the next hurricane.
"This thing is far from over," says one shrimp dealer, echoing the comments of many others on the island. "If you think anything else, you're not paying the least bit of attention."
Gulf Coasters want to move on, but the spill hasn't let them, partly because of the nature of the disaster.
"When the BP oil spill happened, not everybody was able to put hands on the plow and clean it up, which meant the usual process of dealing with tragedy was not available as a way of escape," says John Boss, pastor of Grand Isle's First Baptist Church. "This island was not used to that. It played tricks on their minds, and the focus and stress were toward conversations that got little results other than more stress."