Where I’m Going on Vacation: The Gulf Coast

Really want to do something to help? Pack up the family, head south, and start spending your tourist dollars

My wife and I made the decision a few days ago to go to the Gulf coast. We want to do something, anything, to help.

We’re not alone.

So far more than 30,000 people have offered to lend a hand. But there is a problem: right now there is not enough for them to do. Dozens of web sites and phone banks have been set up to take the names of those willing to give their time, but the clear message is, “We’ll let you know if we need you.”

Right now the cleanup takes specialized knowledge and training that most people do not posses. The rescue and cleaning of birds and wildlife must be done by those with experience in animal handling, and no one is allowed to clean up the oil without hazardous material suits and training. There is some need for office work, but many of those volunteers are just helping to take the names and phone numbers of other volunteers. [SIGNUP]

That is not to say that there won’t be a time when volunteers are called to action. The Audubon Society plans on sending out an army of 13,000 concerned citizens to monitor the Gulf coast for troubled wildlife. Many of those volunteers are being trained right now to identify birds and recognize changes in their habits. The goal is to keep a database so that the society can show, over time, the impact of the spill on the ecosystem.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to track the migratory habits of birds, there is still something you can do; something simple, but vital. You can just show up.

Businesses along the Gulf Coast are hit hard by the spill. They count on an influx of tourists this time of year to survive. The same scenes of oil-slicked beaches and pelicans that inspired thousands of volunteers to offer help has caused tens of thousands of tourists to make other plans.

So my family is going down for a few days. It will be an educational vacation. I want my children to see for themselves the real price we pay for our addiction to oil; an addiction that I don’t believe will be broken in my lifetime, but maybe theirs.

If they need volunteers while we are there, my family will be thrilled to pitch in and help. If not, we will show our support just by showing up and spending money in the restaurants and tourist attractions. And we will learn.
We are organizing the trip right now. I will give details in a future post. If you’d like to join us, we would love to see you down the coast.

Here is a list of just a few of the organizations that are accepting volunteers:

The National Audubon Society

The Alabama Coastal Foundation

Louisiana Oil Response

Volunteer Mississippi

Volunteer Florida

Deep Water Horizon Response