BP Claims Office near Tampa: Commercial fishermen get nothing, “Woman is brought to tears”

Monday, July 5, 2010
By Paul Martin

July 5th, 2010

Anger growing at Clearwater BP claims office; One woman is brought to tears, ABC Action News Tampa Bay, July 2, 2010

BP’s only [Tampa] Bay area claims office opened Monday in Clearwater… many are not satisfied.

For Kathy Birren, the BP claims process is so frustrating it brings her to tears.

“It’s like if you don’t have oil on your beaches and on your skin they don’t care. They think you are not legit,” said Birren.

Kathy and her husband own five fishing boats in Hernando County. They say their business is down 40 percent since the oil spill in the gulf.

She’s been helping other fishermen get organized, and thought she came to the claims office prepared. But after five hours of negotiating, she’s still not satisfied.

“I’ve been involved in all this stuff to know you gotta do this the right way the first time. I come in there and (her husband’s) brother is at a desk, three desks away getting different answers than what we are getting. And the guy is saying there’s nothing I can do. I’m sorry, I’m just the claims person,” said Birren.

Like Kathy, commercial fisherman Roy Woodhouse is struggling.

“I ain’t selling a third of the fish I was selling. I got bills to pay,” said Woodhouse.

He was told if he brought the proper paperwork, he’d get some money. But he left empty handed. A BP representative him only long line fisherman could receive payments.

“They said the federal government or something. I don’t know. They said we’ll call you. I gotta go home and wait,” said Woodhouse. …

“It just shows me what’s to come,” said Birren.

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