Every day I drive the coast wondering what is happening to our oceans. David is on the board of BlueSeals.org and asked me if would get involved to help bring awareness to the problems at hand in the Gulf. The first thing I thought of was what the families are doing to cope and survive the disaster. There are so many elements that need immediate attention, but I wondered what the families in the fishing industry are telling their own children as they try to wrap their heads around this disaster. I realized that it is affecting all of us. From a compassionate place, I decided to get involved.
It was my eight-year-old that opened my eyes before school one morning last week while we were watching the news. The Gulf disaster coverage was on, and I watched my child’s bewildered eyes try to make sense of it. She asked me a lot of questions. I did not have answers for most of them, and her inquisitive personality continued for the drive up PCH on our way to school. That morning I realized I wanted information about the same topics. “Why is there oil pouring into our ocean, why can’t they stop it, what will happen to the animals, what about the sea plants, what about the people? What will become of the fisherman?” she asked.
I interviewed a woman named Erin, the wife of a local fisherman, who is 8 months pregnant. After their family business was shut down, they began chartering boats to help get media and Coast Guards to necessary areas.
I asked her what her family is most concerned about. She shared her financial fears with me that everyone is going through, she spoke to me about long term job security after the cleanup work is done, she wondered what the fishermen will do, since they cannot go back to fishing.
Then I asked her what she is telling her children. “That’s the hard part,” she said as she choked back her tears. “My husband and his father are fishermen. He’s been fishing here since he was a boy. It’s our way of life, passed down through generations- it’s a family tradition. I am pregnant with our first son and the images of him fishing in my husband’s childhood fishing spots are fading away. He will not experience that now. What his grandfather passed down to my husband will not be shared with our son.” She cried…
I asked her how her husband is coping. She said he hasn’t slept much since the spill, doing everything he can to help the local people. He is less focused on what happened and pointing fingers and is simply determined to stay involved with immediate clean-up. They have two older children. I asked her what he is telling them. Do the children really get it? Are they aware of what their future holds? Between more tears she said he explains it like this, “It’s as if we have been pushed out of a plane, and I am trying to build a parachute before our family hits the ground…”
I had nothing more to ask Erin.
I asked another affected wife what she needs right now. She said help from the community, both physical for the obvious, but also emotional.
Stress and anxiety levels have never been higher in that region. Aside from the obvious damage, family traditions are being destroyed and they are losing a way a life that is all they know. No one knows what lies ahead for the people and the waters affected by the oil spill in the Gulf. No one was prepared for what has happened. No one knows how great the damage will be. We do know that a way of life is gone for many….
I want to share the stories that I discover during my trip to Louisiana. It was a sad but eye opening experience for me. I met many people from all walks of life tying to lend a helping hand. Day one began with a press conference with Congressman Bob Filner. David introduced the French boats that have technology to clean the waters, I pitched my hope to link the MM community with communities here to work together and help one another.
Monday, June 21, tune-in for a special LARRY KING LIVE telethon focusing on what you can do to help the Gulf Coast. “Disaster in the Gulf: How You Can Help,” airs on CNN between 8 – 10 PM ET. Read the Larry King Live blog for more information about the telethon.