• 68°

Waiting game continues in rig blast wake

Transocean motorman “Big” Ron Arnold said he has been checkinghis cell phone constantly since he got word that the oil rig he isassigned to every 21 days had a massive explosion in the Gulf ofMexico.

“It was really weird seeing the pictures on TV a while ago, justknowing that’s where we lived, that’s half our lives,” he said ofthe Transocean rig Deepwater Horizon. “However long you’re outthere, that’s half your life.”

While survivors of late Tuesday’s giant blast on the Horizon offthe Louisiana coast were being reunited with their families in NewOrleans early Thursday, the search for 11 missing workerscontinued.

Arnold, from McCall Creek, said that with the way the shifts arestaggered, simply because he was not on his own hitch at the timeof the explosion does not mean there weren’t guys that he hasworked closely with for his four years on the rig.

“I’m worried about the guys, because we’re a big extended family,”he said. “You’ve 130-something people on the rig out there, andit’s like your second home. It’s like your family members aremissing.”

About 100 workers had made it to a supply boat after Tuesdaynight’s explosion, then were shipped out by Coast Guard rescuers.They finally made it ashore at Port Fourchon earlier Thursday wherethey were checked by doctors and brought to a hotel in suburban NewOrleans.

Meanwhile, Carrol Moss of Jayess told the Associated Press it tooknine hours to find out that her crane operator husband had survivedthe explosion. Moss said Transocean officials told her of the blastearly Wednesday, but it wasn’t until afternoon when she found outher husband was among the workers who were safe and being taken byboat to shore.

Arnold said he found out about the blast from a friend who wasabout to start his hitch, but other than what he has heard fromfellow workers, he has not heard an official statement from hiscompany on what will be the next step.

“That’s probably going to be later on down the road,” he said. “I’msure they don’t need me calling and bugging them now. I’ve stillgot two weeks at home before I have to go back.”

Officials said the rig is still burning in the Gulf. As of Thursdaymorning, official numbers had 17 people injured, four critically,and 11 missing. Arnold said during times like this, a rig workerjust hopes that he can fall back on his training.

“I just keep praying for them and their families, they need it,” hesaid. “We go through schools and training for this, but you don’tever really know how you’ll react until it happens. It’s a bunch ofgood guys out there, and it’s rough not knowing what’s goingon.”

Now it’s just a waiting game while survivors make their ways homeand the search continues for the missing, he said.

“You don’t know how to feel, knowing you just came from it a weekago, and I’m praying for my friends and their families, and I’mreally glad I was home,” he said. “But I’m like everyone else,waiting to hear who and what happened and what’s next.”