Volunteers gear up for Gulf Coast oil cleanup - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Volunteers gear up for Gulf Coast oil cleanup

By Tayleigh Davis - bio | email

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - The massive oil slick is moving closer to shores along on the Gulf Coast. As the petroleum pollution slowly flows through the coastal waters, a fragile eco-system is at risk.

Former Reed Bingham State Park Manager Chet Powell is leading a team to the Florida coast as soon as he gets the go-ahead from the command center in Louisiana. Their mission is to help the wildlife threatened by the spill.

Powell and other wildlife specialists are asking people to donate supplies like dishwashing soap, and Pepto-Bismol to local Harvey's Supermarkets so that way they can get straight to work.

First, he and his crew must take a hazardous materials class before they can leave. Wildlife crews don't want just anyone to clean up the mess that's projected to hit any day now. Chet Powell's team is prepared to help animals in need and deal with the outcome -whether they fly, swim, or bite.

"They even asked if we had experience working with alligators and we have," Powell said.

People at Harvey's Supermarket in Tifton filled a box with supplies including blue Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove oil and Pepto-Bismol to protect animals' stomachs from ingested oil.

"From what I hear there's quite a bottle neck down there with people wanting to run down there and help. Plus they have to get hazmat training and many of them have not worked with wildlife at all," Powell said.  

His crew will train soon, but right now it's a waiting game. The oil hasn't reached the Gulf Coast, but as soon as it does, they're ready to book.

Bird watcher Wayne Schaffner is going because he can help identify certain shore and sea birds which may need help, especially in a fragile reproductive season.

"We're in the height of breading season so the big risk here is losing a generation of birds," Schaffner said.

The team plans to find at-risk animals and transport them to the closest mobile vet hospital.

"The oil on the feathers immobilizes them so if they can't forage they'll just starve," Shaffner noted.

That's why Powell and his crew want to make sure all animals can maintain their strength for hunting and survival. They also hope it will be the dawn of a new day for many animals who will need to be rescued. Powell's group will most likely focus on the Florida shore near Pensacola.

To follow the progress of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill visit it's Facebook page. 

You can help the rescue effort by donating items to your local Harvey's Supermarket. Click HERE for store locations.

Pepto-Bismol, dishwashing liquid and towels are some of the needed products.

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