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