No one likes to have one thing define you or your town. For years, Dallas, Texas was seen by outsiders as the place where the president was shot and killed. Oklahoma City has an indelible stamp of domestic terrorism placed on it. And on a much lesser scale, Mayflower is the place where an oil spill ruined a subdivision.
Mayflower is so much more than that, but when you say the name of the city, the first thing people will think of, at least for a while, is oil. Oil in the ground, oil in the cove, oil heading to the lake. There is not much that can change the perspective of that, except to realize that more work must be done to clean up the area where a pipe burst in March. Since then, Mayflower had its share of publicity, news and visitors (Rocker Neil Young stopped by earlier this year just to take a look around). But as the months move on — we are half a year away from the spill — things will get back to normal.
That doesn’t mean that things are normal. In fact, if people believe that we are putting the oil spill behind us, they need to just keep looking around. Things have changed, but some things are still the same. Oil can still be found. Booms are still sitting in strategic areas in Lake Conway. There are still people needing health exams from toxic fumes. Mayflower, involuntarily playing the part of Lady Macbeth, just can’t seem to get that last spot out to return to normalcy.
There won’t be a sense of return until all the lawsuits are sorted out, and that could take years. ExxonMobil, who many have touted as a strong partner in the cleanup effort, is still battling in state and federal courts over several issues, so the company’s presence from the area will not go away any time soon. We may not see them around as much — a trip to the gulf doesn’t provide us with a BP presence years after their travesty — but work still must be done on their part to ensure that Mayflower can be known for its great schools, quiet community and wonderful quality of life instead of that place where that horrible thing happened.
We knew it wouldn’t change overnight. Six months later, we need to keep working. The people of Mayflower deserve it.