CEDAR FALLS - A month after an oil rig explosion led to a massive leak of crude oil, the economic impact is still spreading.
A ruptured 12-inch riser pipe on the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico is cutting off a supply line of fresh seafood to the Cedar Valley.
The Fabian Seafood Co. of Galveston, Texas, shrimp truck made its last stop in Cedar Falls Thursday until at least late July. The Texas shrimp season ended last week and the oil spill has halted the Louisiana shrimp harvest.
"The Texas supply is gone, the Louisiana supply is gone, it's all pretty much gone," said Justin Gian.
Much of the Texas supply has been bought up to replace the Louisiana harvest. Gian normally makes his trip every three weeks, but without a shrimp inventory, his selling season is coming to an early halt.
Gian's customers are taking advantage of this trip. In his Wednesday stops in Des Moines, Gian usually sells about 300 to 350 pounds of shrimp. This week, customers bought about 800 pounds of shrimp. Jumbo shrimp went for about $14.50 per pound to $15 per pound Thursday.
"It was pretty crazy there, everybody was stocking up," Gian said.
Sherry Padavich, of Cedar Falls, stocked up with an extra supply Thursday. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Padavich said she prefers fresh shrimp.
"It's ingrained in me," she said. "You can't get it this fresh in town."
Most shrimp in area stores is frozen and imported from Asia.
Wes Dunn, of Cedar Falls, didn't buy more than he usually does. After spending a decade in Texas, he prefers fresh, Gulf shrimp.
"This is the stuff you use for real food," he said. "For high-quality dishes, you use high-quality ingredients."
Both Dunn and Padavich have been patronizing the Fabian truck for years. Gian said about 90 percent of his business is from return customers.
"He's like your milkman," said Jay Edelnant, of Cedar Falls. "You get to know him and he gets to know you; he'll even suggest recipes."
Gian's grandfather started the truck route that includes the Cedar Falls stop more than 20 years ago. Gian will resupply in Chicago with a fresh supply flown there and finish his route in northern Minnesota.
Other family members also distribute shrimp scallops, crab and fish on five other routes in the U.S. The oil spill had already caused a 20 percent rise in shrimp prices. Once the Texas season ended last weekend, the Fabian supply dried up.
Gian sends his regular customers postcards to let people know in advance when he and his truck will be in town. With the spill and it's effects continuing to grow, Gian is unsure if he'll have anything to sell by the end July.
"I don't know how it's going to play out," he said.
The halt to the business is local reminder of the severity of the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The trickle-down effect is going to be greater than anybody expected it to be," Padavich said.