As the war against oil continues on the Gulf, many throughout the community are wondering how they can help.
The Louisiana Serve Commission (volunteerlouisiana.gov) is helping mobilize and train volunteers in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Only specially trained responders may clean up or dispose of the oil. Volunteers will not be assigned to oil-touching activities. Individuals must be trained to rescue and care for the injured wildlife. Unauthorized individuals can, even with the best of intentions, harm irreparably the affected animals, some species of which are not accustomed to any kind of human interaction.
While there are limited opportunities now, both conservation and human services needs continue to emerge. Nonprofits and faith-based organizations are continuing to identify roles for volunteers to meet these needs.
Possible roles for volunteers might include:
- Shoreline monitor
- Donations management
- Food bank sorting and packing
- Case management
- Wildlife marker/sitter
- Facility and site maintenance
- Transportation assistant
- Administrative and support
- Pre-impact beach cleanup
- Positions at the command post or volunteer reception center
- Light construction
A number of other organizations have also set up websites or hotlines for volunteers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has several useful numbers:
- To report oiled or injured wildlife: 866-557-1401
- To report claims related to damages: 800-440-0858
- To volunteer: 866-448-5816
Oilspillvolunteers.com is a central clearing house for volunteers to sign up with various groups and organizations that are already established in efforts.
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is collecting information for volunteers on their website, lagulfrepsonse.com, and the National Wildlife Federation is looking for volunteers for Gulf coast surveillance teams.
The teams will be responsible for the daily monitoring of a specific geographic area of coastline expected to see impacts from the oil spill. The volunteers will:
- Make daily tours of key wildlife and coastal sites.
- Help locate and identify oiled and otherwise injured wildlife and notify trained rescue teams.
- Help report on the arrival of signs of the oil spill to new (previously unaffected) areas in the Gulf region.
- Support wildlife and environmental agencies on understanding the timing and movements of oil along the entire Gulf Coast.
The Gulf Coast extends over an area of approximately 1,500 miles without bays, inlets and wetland communities. When these are added in, there is almost 10,000 miles of land and water to be watched for oil.
Leesville (La.) Daily Leader