The Deepwater Horizon disaster is expected to eclipse the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill of 1989 as the worst oil related disaster in U.S. history. The massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico threatens the lives of over 400 species of animals, including whale, dolphins, and sea turtles, and an estimated 34,000+ wild birds. The financial impact on the people of the Gulf Coast is equally distressing, as the disaster is expected to have a serious impact on the fishing, tourism, and petrolatum industries that many people of the Gulf Coast rely on. To learn more about the impact of this disaster, follow the latest developments on CNN.
If you live in the Gulf Coast area, you may be able to help with cleanup operations. Visit the following web sites to learn how and where you can volunteer to help clean up the Gulf Coast.
- The National Wildlife Federation (Gulf Coast)
- The National Audubon Society (Gulf Coast)
- OilSpillVolunteers.com (Gulf Coast)
- Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (Alabama)
- Mobile Bay Keeper (Alabama)
- The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board (Louisiana – Looking for people with boats)
- Save Our Seabirds (Florida)
- Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary (Florida)
Locals in the Gulf Coast can also help by keeping alert for contaminated shorelines and injured wildlife. Use the following numbers to report sightings:
- To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401
- To discuss oil related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858
- To report oiled shoreline or to request volunteer information, please call 1-866-448-5816. (This is the BP Community Support Team Hotline, which is being used as a hub by nonprofit organizations to coordinate volunteer inquiries. Leave a message with your contact information and your questions about how to help or information on oiled shoreline.)
Those of us who are physically out of range can still help the cleanup efforts in the Gulf Coast. The following organizations are in need of a variety of items that can be collected and shipped to those who are trying to help.
- Nylons / Hair Donations of used nylons and pantyhose are being collected through MatterOfTrust.org in an effort to supply the cleanup crews with devices that absorb oil. Organize a pantyhose drive with your friends and neighbors for an easy way to contribute to cleanup efforts. Human and animal hairs are also used to create these devices. Salons, Dog Groomers, and Fiber Farmers can help contribute to cleanup efforts by collecting and donating clippings and fibers for MatterOfTrust.org. Let your favorite salon, groomer, or fiber farm know about this program, and that you would like to see them participate.
- Linens, Kennels, Towels, Sheets, Dawn Detergent, Paper Towels, Bottled Water and Gator-Aid The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is the nation's largest hospital for wild birds. The supplies listed here are needed to support their efforts. Visit their home page for more information.
As always, financial donations are a simple, straightforward way to help. You can make donations at the following websites:
- Visit The National Wildlife Federation to donate funds that will be put toward cleanup efforts. While you are there, learn how you can speak up for clean energy laws, and how you can help to spread the word through social media through Twitter and Facebook.
- The Greater New Orleans Foundation has set up the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund to help with cleanup and environmental protection efforts. The fund also hopes to provide assistance to those affected by this crisis through grants to non-profit organizations.
- Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research is collecting donations that are to be toward wildlife rehabilitation along the Gulf Coast.
Whatever way that you choose to help, you're efforts are sure to make a difference in the aftermath of this disaster. Every little bit counts. Whether you donate time, effort, or money, your contribution can help.