As Gulf Coast residents brace for the arrival of a massive oil slick creeping toward shore, local business owners who depend on ocean industries say the spill couldn't have come at a worse time.
"The way the economy has been, we were really looking forward to a nice shot in the arm coming up with Memorial Weekend," Brett Dickey, a restaurant owner in Orange Beach, Alabama, told CNN affiliate WEAR.Â "This could be enough to keep people away if they think they can't get to the beach."
The spill and the massive response have already begun wreaking havoc on livelihoods in a region where jobs are largely dependent on seafood and tourism.
Douglas Ford, a property manager in Dauphin Beach, Alabama, told CNN affiliate WKRG thatÂ heÂ has already been forced to refund customers on condo rentals through mid-June.
"We've just passed spring break so the phone has been very active with inquires and availabilities and it just shut down, said Ford, who plans to sue BP and Transocean for his losses, according toÂ WKRG.Â
Stephen Denmark, a city council member in Dauphin Island said Saturday local scientists are predicting that the seafood crop could take a decade to recover from the oil slick.
"The last two years have been tough already," Denmark told CNN, referring to the recession. "This will be catastrophic to the mom and pop businesses, which is 90 percent of the business down here on the island."