In a post by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson from The Back Forty, she writes a poignant post comparing a natural disaster from her childhood to the events in the BP/Gulf Coast Disaster. People, she writes, have an idea how to help themselves during a disaster as they have warning. Not always, but sometimes they do. Animals, however, are blindsided. As Williamson survived a hurricane more than 50 years ago while working as a camp counselor. They weathered the storm up above a horse stable. This is her story.
What I remember most were the horses. They called for help. Some of the men at the adjoining boys’ camp got into rowboats and canoes. In the dark and at significant peril, they made their way in and opened the stalls. Somehow none of the boats got swamped as the horses rushed out.
When dawn came and I looked out the window, I could see the horses on high ground, browsing for stuff they could eat. They, too, all lived.
This comes back to me as I think of the dolphins, the fish, the pelicans and other sea birds who never knew disaster was coming and would have had no way to call for help if they had known. For them there was no way out, no high ground. So many have died. So many are covered with oil and will die. So many that live to breed will bear malformed young because of the hormonal implications of Corexit, the dispersing agent BP bought from one of its subsidiaries to make the oil go away (as if it could.)
The horror of this will be with us for generations — of fish, of birds, and quite likely of human beings. Those birds and fish, even the shrimps, have a will to live, and the right to do so. They have been robbed, plundered, destroyed.
Yesterday, the families of the eleven men whose names are Donald Clark, Shane Roshto, Dewey Revette, Adam Weise, Wyatt Kemp, Dale Burkeen, Jason Anderson, Karl Kleppinger, Stephen Curtis, Gordon Jones and Blair Manuel were memorialized in Jackson, Mississippi. The story references that their families are part of community that they didn’t not wish. One not of their choosing but a community of grief and loss nonetheless.
And the fisheries? They have been declared a disaster.
This is not going away. With 54,000 square miles of federal waters named a disaster and thousands of jobs at risk, we are looking at a lot of political infighting in the coming months, corporate tap dances and an ecosystem drowning in oil.
Does anyone really know what to do by the man-made disaster? I’m seriously asking.
The one thing I do know is that this isn’t a Gulf Coast problem, this is everyone’s disaster.
Related: On the Beach