Life is actually better than it even was before the spill in my opinion, but it was already headed that way before the spill happened. Seems to only have been a set back here and nothing permanent. I believe the tourism has been the heaviest I have seen here since moving here over 15 years ago. I know personally my beach-photography business is growing each year.
The residual effects are that some businesses have yet to reopen, or most likely never will. The BP settlement money came too little, and too late for them. We have lost some friends in the area because they could not hold out for the economy to recover and have since moved to others cities where they will remain. Now everything I am saying is from my perspective, and from that perspective the oil is since a distant memory because we managed to weather the storm so to speak, and emerge on the other side better than we were. Of course after losing a home to Hurricane Ivan, then a child during birth we are no strangers to adversity and the oil spill was no where near the traumatic levels of those events.
I am actually somewhat indifferent to it now as I have moved on but feel the charges are fair as they destroyed many lives through their greed and negligence. I heard many accounts of cover-ups and shady operations by BP and their contractors which convinced me they were not on the up and up about everything. I have photos of clean-up practices that they denied were happening, but obviously were. However the settlement really does not change anything for me, as life here has already gone back to normal. Although, I do understand there could be long-lasting residual effects on the environment that we do not even know about yet.
It was a very life-changing event on the Gulf Coast, and destroyed real lives. It was not a media hyped event at all. It demoralized and depressed a large amount of people.