When a president visits the scene of a disaster, he usually gets shown around by local officials. A mayor. A governor. A city manager. Often, all of them.
A few "real people" may get a chance to shake the president's hand and say a few words to him. But most folks don't get that opportunity.
Tuesday, President Barack Obama spent some time on the shore of Pensacola Beach in Florida. As NPR's Ari Shapiro reports later today on All Things Considered, the president was there to hear from Gov. Charlie Crist and other officials about the preparations they're making as oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster heads toward their state.
Ari returned to the area to talk with people there about what they're thinking. He says that "signs of what is happening are everywhere. Streaks of oil might sneak into the bay one morning, then run out with the tide. There is a sense of fatatlism around the city."
Among the people he met was Simon MacDougal, who was fishing from a pier. As you can hear, MacDougal is among those who sense that something bad is floating offshore.
"It's gonna come!," MacDougal says. "They can't stop it. They can't stop it. ... That's the way life is, it's got to go somewhere."