CB2: BP Saves Christmas?

When I met a friend to share my good news yesterday, she caught me a little off-guard by saying, “You have to hear how BP saved my Christmas.” That’s right, as in the same BP from the Gulf oil spill. Having asked to remain anonymous, we’ll call her Jane.

Jane works at a local upscale restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg overlooking Tampa Bay (not the Gulf). She’s a mother of one with another on the way and is the kind of person who clips coupons, sends in rebates, and always looks for the best deal. Noticing that this summer’s income was significantly less than previous years due to the slow in tourism from the spill, she calculated a $9,500 difference, then took to Google to see if there were any relief options.

She told me she came across GulfCoastClaimsFacility.com where individuals and businesses impacted by the spill could file a claim. A little confused by the website, she gave them a call, explained her situation, and was told to submit her 2008 and 2009 W2s and her most recent pay stub. Three weeks later, in early December, a check arrived for $8,500. It gets better. The check also came with a letter stating that if Jane agreed not to sue BP in the future, she could receive an additional $5,000 immediately. She signed the agreement and received the second check a week later. With $13,500 in her pocket right before Christmas, she was thrilled to be able to get everybody what they wanted.

Telling her I was amazed that she received so much money so quickly, she went on to say that friends at a restaurant on St. Pete Beach (the Gulf side, but again, still not a place that saw oil) received between $19,000 and $28,000 in the same period. Wow.

If you work in the Gulf and are just learning about this, I hate to be a buzz-kill saying that the program deadline was last November. Also, I’m not trying to be a BP Cheerleader here but rather point out that relief money is going to some people who need it, without making them jump through a lot of hoops. To see just how much was dispersed, see the PDF below. For reference, “Emergency Advance Payment” was Jane’s first check and “Final” was the second.

I’m impressed. Are you?

Read Last Week’s CB2: Check In at the Embassy

About Chris Bennett (Jump to Online Resume)

Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.

What does CB2 Mean? “Chris Bennett’s Crisis Blog.” It was originally CB Squared but the superscript 2 never took, so now we’re rocking the big 2.

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Chris Bennett

A fair opinion, Ed. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

She explained it to me as weighing a guaranteed $5,000 today (a very big deal for her) versus the likelihood of being part of a class-action suit down the road and actually walking away with more than that amount. Of course greed may motivate these buyouts, but paying hospitality workers nearly $30,000 in an area that didn’t even get close to seeing oil does impress me.

Stephen Peteritas

I AM impressed. I know BP”s motives are to save their own butts BUT anything that keeps stuff out of court and sue happy america at bay I for. And say what you will about the 5,000 after the agreement but the 8,500 was certainly the right thing to do.

Sara Estes Cohen

I agree with Ed – think of all the other large scale disasters/incidents that have occurred in the past and how the companies paid off those who were affected it by it to buy their silence or their signature saying they won’t sue…the long term affects of the oil spill are not yet known…and I hate to think of all the families who might have medical claims later in life who signed their ability to sue off for a quick $5000. Especially considering who knows what the actual contract said that they are signing…

Christopher Whitaker

The Gulf survives on Oil, Fishing, and Tourism. If the Oil’s ruined the other 2, BP may have gotten off cheap.

Allen Sheaprd

BP is helping out. It does not have to be conpensation.

I look forward to BP return in the spring to clean up the oil. There was 176 to 400 million gallons spilled. PBS’s java aplet lets you estimate how many hudreds of millions of gallons of oil leaked out – Source:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/05/how-much-oil-has-spilled-in-the-gulf-of-mexico.html There are three different estimates.

Our federal government on Dec 16, 2010 says 22% of the crude oil is still in the gulf. Source:http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41531.pdf

This should mean many more clean up jobs for people out of work.