Last Updated: Friday, June 4nd, 2010 at 12:05PM

oil spill in gulf of mexicoHi everyone,

I just got back from meetings in Destin, Florida regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Our CEO, Brian Sharples, really wanted me to attend these meetings so I could be educated about the situation and bring first-hand information back to all of our concerned homeowners and travelers. And of course, I also have a vested interest in this topic because I personally own vacation rental homes along the Gulf Coast.

As promised, here are my meeting notes:

An estimated 500 people congregated on Tuesday, May 4th, at 1pm. In attendance were concerned citizens who had all sorts of interests in the area. Everyone including elected officials, vacation rental owners, property managers, HOA managers, business owners, waiters, real estate agents, attorneys, doctors, and many more. Basically the community came together as they were all hungry for information on the oil spill.

Here are some of the unknowns:

No one can really confirm how much oil is being spilled out each day. There have been reports all over the place from 5,000 barrels to a million gallons per day.

No one knows when the well will be completely stopped (though preliminary reports as of Friday morning May 7, 2010, suggest that the cofferdam [containment dome] is currently in the water).

Once the leaking is stopped, no one knows how long this will take to completely clean up completely.

We aren't sure if even all the beaches will be affected.

Here are some general facts about the oil spill that I learned.

As the oil leaks out, it comes in a plume and travels with the ocean currents before it surfaces. Because of this, all of the oil may not be visible from the surface immediately.

Many of the preceding oil spills the general public hears about have happened in cold climates (Alaska, Iceland, etc.) The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is in a significantly warmer climate which will change the effects and will be significantly different. Basically the warm air and warm water assist in evaporation of the benzene and other toxic components of the oil, which I understand to mean that it will break down faster.

What is being done right now.

There are various steps being taken right now on multiple levels to minimize risks.

BP is attempting to control the situation by capping and containing the oil.

The EPA is training many groups of people to be certified in safe oil clean-up. Everyone from volunteers, beach attendants, general contractors, to heavy machinery operators are lining up to be trained.

The local, state and federal governments are all working together.

There are various methods of clean up being employed. As you likely have seen and heard on the news, here are some of the measures being taken.

Booms placed in the water to keep the oil from drifting into shore;

Controlled burns;

Chemicals sprayed on the surface to absorb the oil;

Human and Pet Hair Booms

Hay sprayed in the water

What should I tell my travelers who want to cancel?

Keep yourself informed and deal with questions on a case-by-case basis, but here's how I've been handling these questions from my renters:

“There’s no telling at this early date what will happen and whether our beaches will be affected. The tourism counsel in the area recommended that we take it day-by-day. The bulk of the tourism season doesn’t start for 4+ weeks, which is a long way away for clean-up efforts. If you don’t mind, let's just wait and see what happens and then discuss our options.”

You can also direct them to news articles such as this one:

Will my homeowners insurance or traveler’s insurance cover loss of rent?

I have heard from many owners who said they have called their insurance companies. From what I am told, they will not pay on the basis that this is not considered a “natural disaster” or “act of God”. However, the best practice is to contact your own insurance carrier to learn what your options are.

Word on the street is that BP put a reserved amount of money into a trust fund for certain losses. Here’s a link where you can find the phone number to file a claim.

This information is taken verbatim from Bay County Florida’s website: Businesses should keep detailed records of any business losses resulting from the oil spill. Businesses, including hoteliers, sport fishing charters, watersports rental companies, etc., that may be negatively impacted are asked to keep detailed profit and loss records and track any cancellations, should a claim need to be presented. BP has established a claim system and toll free number: 800-440-0858. This system will allow people to be entered into a process to recover lost income or recoup damage-related expenses.

Where can you go for more information?

Obama Encourages Vacationing at Gulf Beaches This Summer

Maps of the affected areas:

Updates on beach closures:


Harrison County:

Hancock County:

Jackson County:




Beaches of South Walton:

Bay County:

Local Chambers of Commerce

MS - Ocean Springs -

MS - Hancock County Bay St. Louis -

MS - Jackson County -

MS – Harrison County -

MS - Biloxi -

MS - Longbeach City Page -

MS - Harrison County (Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian) Tourism Commission

MS – Pass Christian -

MS - D'Iberville St. Martin -

AL – Dauphin Island -

AL – Gulf Coast -

AL - Gulf Shores -

FL – Sarasota -

FL – Treasure Island –

FL – Clearwater -

FL – Pinnellas Park -

FL – Tampa -

FL - Pensacola -

FL - Pensacola Bay -

FL – Santa Rosa County -

FL - Avalon Beach -

FL – Gulf Breeze -

FL – Navarre -

FL – Pace -

FL – Niceville -

FL – Destin -

FL – Crestview -

FL – Walton County -

FL – Panama City -

FL – Gulf County -

FL – Carrabelle -

FL - Franklin County -

Links for up-to-date information (this is not a complete list, but please email us if you know of others we can add to this list):


Facebook: Deepwater Horizon Response

Facebook: Florida Travel and Tourism

Information on filing a claim for losses due to the oil spill:

Important Phone Numbers:

Report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information:
Submit alternative response technology, services or products:
(281) 366-5511
Submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system:
(281) 366-5511
Submit a claim for damages:
(800) 440-0858
Report oiled wildlife:
(866) 557-1401
Deepwater Horizon Incident
Joint Information Center Phone: (985) 902-5231 or (985) 902-5240

One last bit of advice

Do your own research, stay on top of the news and I highly recommend you seek advice from your own attorney.

Here’s to hoping the only oil we see on our beaches is suntan oil.


The information in the articles, blogs or other posts by Christine Karpinski are provided to assist vacation property owners or managers generally and are based on Ms. Karpinski’s personal experiences or the information she has been able to gather. This information is meant to help the owner community; however, please note that any particular situation of any owner or manager may differ and all owners and managers are encouraged to seek professional advice to determine what course(s) of action will be most beneficial for them. Neither HomeAway, Inc. nor Christine Karpinski can provide any guarantee or warrantee that this information is complete or accurate at any point in time or that any particular outcome will result if action is taken in response to this information.