Yesterday I sat in several rooms with many different government officials eager to help our community. Today I attended the very first volunteer training session in Escambia County with a room full of citizens who were eager to help our community. I also had a conference call with folks from the Waterkeeper Alliance, all of the Gulf Keepers and many other Waterkeepers from across the country eager to help our community. I have been humbled by the magnitude of folks trying to reach out and help our community. We WILL overcome this!! Together we are as strong as the Gulf Stream, please keep the faith, or hope, or whatever positive energy you prescribe to, during this trying time.
After my conference call this evening I attended a vigil for the Gulf at Pensacola Beach pavilion and was finally able to submerse in to our precious Gulf. I emerged refreshed and reinvigorated and ready to continue my fight for inland waterbody protection and to help in any way that I possibly can to minimize the impact of this terrible tragedy on OUR coastline.
I also realized today that our Gala is less than 3 weeks away. One of your Directors, Elizabeth McWilliams, has stepped up and is leading the coordination efforts so that I can focus on oil spill issues. If you have an auction item that has yet to be picked up please call her ASAP and she will make it happen (850) 221-9205. If you would like to purchase tickets visit our website: http://www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org/gala/. If you would like to become an Emerald Coastkeeper intern and help us with our Gala and oil spill coordination efforts please send me an email, Chasidy@emeraldcoastkeeper.org.
Below are a handful of announcements regarding latest updates and ways we all can help: (for those of you in a hurry, FDEP is onsite, Escambia County staff rocks, fishing restricted for at least 10 days and help wildlife by donating supplies, more details below)
First and foremost I want you to know that Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is on the scene. I know many of you have asked me to find out what the state was doing and due to the overwhelming nature this issue it took some time to get a response. Michael Sole, Secretary of FDEP has experience dealing with oil spills and is on the ground fighting for protection of our area. Pre water and air monitoring has been initialized. For information about what FDEP is doing visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm
You should know that Escambia County staff serious ROCKS! They have been very proactive in response efforts and are fighting for greater inland water protection. The Escambia County Public Information Officer informed me that they have set-up online self-registration for volunteers wanting training at www.BeReadyEscambia.com/training. The Citizen Information Line will be able to register people for classes who do not have computer access between the hours of 8a.m. and 5 p.m. each day. The Citizen Information number is (850) 471-6600 (yes, this number is different than the 595... number previously published). They will add additional classes as needed.
BP is only just setting up their volunteer office tomorrow and have yet to set any training sessions, I find this utterly unacceptable, but we are working with what we have right now. I will be meeting with them tomorrow to fight for more training for volunteers.
NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida's Pensacola Bay (map attached). The closure is effective immediately. Details can be found here: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/. Fishermen who wish to contact BP about a claim should call 800-440-0858.
Many of you are mostly interested in helping wildlife. On my conference call today with other Waterkeepers who have experience dealing with oil spills I learned that more often than not well intentioned folks end up hurting animals more than being slicked in oil (if you can imagine anything worse). It is IMPERATIVE that only trained personnel handle not only animals, but any oil drenched items. HOWEVER, you can help those trained personnel prepare for animal response by giving supplies or donating to the Wildlife Sanctuary in Pensacola: http://www.pensacolawildlife.com/. Or, for those of you east of Escambia see the message below from Patrick Gault, Assistant Director/Biologist for Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge:
In support of our holding and stabilization areas we are asking for donations of the following items:
Heating pads (w/o auto shut off if possible)
Large Rubbermaid containers with lids
Rubbermaid troughs (can be purchased at Tractor Supply in Crestview or on-line)
Large backyard portable pools like found at Wal-Mart
Our biggest need at this time is for people who are willing to answer the phone at the refuge. You will respond to callers' frequently asked questions and add names to the volunteer list. Remember, every effort is important and valuable. Please contact Susan at 850-650-1880 if you are able to come in to answer the phone.
Chasidy Fisher Hobbs
Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.
We need members to help in our fight for clean water. Please Join NOW: www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org/donate
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"Never underestimate the power a few dedicated citizens have to change the world, indeed that is all that ever has" Margaret Mead