British Petroleum (BP) donated $1 million to Catholic Charities in Louisiana earlier this week to help families who have been affected by the damages of the recent oil spill.
New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond called the gift a "blessing," saying that it will allow the group to "continue our mission of service to those directly affected," according to Catholic News Agency.
"Our first priority in this disaster is the people who are directly impacted and unable to work right now," Aymond said. "Their livelihood and their way of life are endangered and it is our responsibility as church and as human beings to provide for them in their time of need."
Catholic Charities and its partner Second Harvest Food Bank have been working since April 29 to provide relief from the spill, and have already distributed over 30,000 meals to victims of the disaster.
The Louisiana Department of Social Services estimates that some 47,000 households will need food assistance because on the spill.
Dangers for marine life on the Louisiana coast were increased on Thursday morning as blankets of heavy crude oil washed up on the state's shores.
"The day that we have all been fearing is upon us today," Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said according to AFP.
Officials in Florida and Cuba are also on alert about the oil reaching their coasts.
Meanwhile, a group of scientists has accused the U.S. government of failing in their assessment of the extent of the oil spill's damage, which they say has been obscured by BP.
"It seems baffling that we don't know how much oil is being spilled," oceanographer Sylvia Earle told a senate panel on Wednesday, according to the New York Times. "It seems baffling that we don't know where the oil is in the water column."
Government officials responded that analyses of the underwater plumes are still in the early stages, and that all possible resources are being dedicated towards getting a fuller picture of the damage.
Some experts have challenged BP's estimates that 5,000 barrels of oil are being spilled each day into the Gulf of Mexico, saying that the figure is more likely between 20,000 and 70,000 barrels.
BP executives have cited surface response figures and the large amount of gas leakage near the broken pipe as indicators for defending their estimates.