Monday, June 14, 2010

Apple #463: Gulf Oil Spill Response

Like most of you, I'm sure, I've been troubled by the amount of oil that's been spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for several weeks now.  I've been trying to figure out how to talk about it here on the Daily Apple.  The purpose of this blog is not to be doom-and-gloomy, so I didn't want to give you a barrage of horrendous statistics.  I also didn't want to be only positive about this rotten situation because that would probably make you want to smack me in the face.  Finally I've figured out information I can provide you with that's neither of those two extremes but which is hopefully helpful, and that is to give you ideas about what you can do to help, if you want to.

That's one of the worst things about this.  That that oil is spewing away, and we're all sitting here like blithering idiots while it happens.  But there are things we can do that could help at least somewhat.

Cleaning up oil gobs in Louisiana.
(Photo by Eric Gay at the Associated Press)

I've got lots of information and lots of detail, but if you just want the basics, here are the major phone numbers to call, nationwide:

Report Oil

Report Wildlife Coated in Oil

Offer your vessel for the skimming operations

Call to Volunteer
This will take you to a voice mailbox, so be prepared to provide your contact information

File a Claim with BP
or go to

Right now, most of the volunteering is being coordinated by one organization, the Deepwater Horizon Response.  This is an amalgam of BP and the multitude of federal agencies involved (NOAA, the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, etc.).  This is who is on the other end of those phone numbers I just listed for you.

These are the people who will be coordinating the BP employees, the people who work for the various federal agencies, and the local paid responders. Because they're the coordinators, pretty much everybody is referring people back to the Deepwater Horizon Response website and phone numbers.  However, the Deepwater Horizon Response site is also directing people back to various state-based pages. So you could  try volunteering locally, but you might get directed back to the Deepwater Horizon Response people, or you might get other, mixed results.

If you live in the Gulf Coast region, you'll have more opportunities to volunteer.  If you're knowledgeable about birds and other wildlife likely to get oiled in this spill, your services will definitely be welcomed.  If you're like most of us and you don't live on the coast and you don't have any special expertise, you've got two basic choices: you could donate money to a cause of your choice, or you could register as an available volunteer and wait to see if you get called.

They all say, please don't go down to the shoreline and start doing stuff on your own.  The crude oil is hazardous material and you could get injured.  If you see an injured animal, unless you're specifically trained in how to help it, please don't try to take care of it yourself, but call the hotline.  Otherwise, please wait until you're contacted by an organization and suitably trained in how to respond.

Please heed the signs and wait until you're called and asked to go on the beaches to help.
(Photo sourced from Blogger Report)

I'm going to list a bunch of organizations that you can try.  I'll start with groups operating on the national level, and then give you links to groups in each state.  Depending on the organization, the state, the individuals involved, as well as your expertise and what you'd like to offer, the opportunities vary quite a lot.


Deepwater Horizon Reponse
The program coordinating BP and the various government and state agencies who are all working to address the problem.

If you want to volunteer directly with them, call 866-488-5816. This is the number that takes you to a voice mailbox where you can leave your contact information.

National Wildlife Federation

Looking for surveillance volunteers who are willing to work in teams to monitor the 10,000 + miles of shoreline along the Gulf Coast and notify trained rescue teams of oiled and injured wildlife. They want people who have some skills in wildlife observation, some knowledge of Gulf Coast wildlife, especially those species that will be most susceptible to the spill, and be able to use GPS or internet technology for rapid reporting.

Most agencies say they don't want stuff, but the National Wildlife Federation does have a small list of stuff they need, to help the surveillance teams:
  • GPS units
  • Digital cameras
  • Sunscreen
  • Backpacks
  • Water bottles
  • Bug repellant
  • Clipboards
  • Pens
  • Hats
  • Gas cards
  • Gift cards from major stores such as Target, Staples, Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart, etc.
send to
National Wildlife Federation
  Attn: Oil Spill Volunteer Network  
   11100 Wildlife Center Drive
   Reston, VA 20190

Donate $ to NWF
Donations will go to support wildlife and wild environments affected by the spill.

National Audubon Society
The Audubon Society's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, with a particular emphasis on birds.  They have a fairly involved program dedicated to the oil spill response.
Bird Information
If you're a bird-watcher in the Gulf area, the Audubon Society wants to know what you've seen.  Contact them with information about the location and abundance of birds in your area, which will help them document how the birds have been affected and what the Society will do in response.  Go to, register, and submit your observations.

Volunteer with Audubon
They say they haven't exactly decided how many volunteers they need to do what or how they'll deploy people.  But they are taking registrations from people who want to volunteer, and once they get their plans settled, they'll begin contacting registered volunteers.

Donations to Audubon
Donations will help Audubon assist birds affected by the spill and work to restore the environment.

This brown pelican is one of the first oil spill survivors.  It was cleaned up by the folks at Audubon and released in Florida's Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.
(Photo by Richard Baker, President, Pelican Island Audubon Society)

International Bird Rescue Research Center

The IBRRC's mission is to mitigate the negative impact of humans on aquatic birds and other wildlife. They are one of the non-profit agencies who've been called in to provide expert assistance in helping affected wildlife.

They're not accepting offers to volunteer but are referring people to the Deepwater Horizon hotline.

Donations to IBRRC
Donations will not go to the oil spill, since BP is supposed to pay for that, but donations made here will go to the IBRRC's ongoing programs.

Another way to donate to the IBRRC is to adopt a bird.

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research
Their mission is to rehabilitate orphaned, injured, or oiled wild birds. They are working with the IBRRC to help wildlife affected by the spill. 

Donations to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research
They, too, can't devote donated monies specifically to the oil spill but will put the money into their general operating fund.  That fund will support several projects, including assistance to oiled wildlife.

You can donate online or write a check payable to Tri-State Bird Rescue, mailed to 110 Possum Hollow Rd, Newark, DE 19711.


Louisiana Volunteer Program
or the LA Gulf Response 
This is a coalition of the State of Louisiana and five non-profit wildlife agencies working together to address the oil spill in Louisiana.

Volunteers in Louisiana
They're asking for volunteers to register as available to help, but they don't want to deploy any volunteers just yet.  Volunteers will need to be trained to handle the hazardous material that is crude oil, and they want to make sure that local, state, and federal officials are free to do what they need to do before bringing any other people into the mix.

They have already been inundated with all sorts of supplies -- some useful, some not -- so they don't need any more stuff

Donate to the Louisiana Gulf Response
Monies will go specifically to the oil spill recovery program in Lousiana.

Volunteer Louisiana Oil Spill Response
This is the statewide agency that handles volunteering in Louisiana.  They have one program aimed specifically at Gulf Oil spill recovery.  They don't have specific jobs for volunteers ready at the moment, but they are anticipating needing them once the Unified Command (Deepwater Horizon Response) gives them the go.

Whether volunteers are there to help with the Gulf Oil Spill or with Katrina or other recovery efforts, they have housing arrangements available for out-of-state volunteers.

Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center
Donations to support recovery in Louisiana can be made here.  Monetary donations are preferred rather than supplies.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans
Accepting donations of money, food, and time for those people in Louisiana who have been negatively affected by the spill and its economic aftereffects. 

Greater New Orleans Foundation
Providing critical services to fishermen negatively affected by the spill.
1055 St. Charles Ave, Ste 100
New Orleans, LA, 70130
504-598-4663 • fax 504-598-4663


Volunteer Florida
Is gratefully accepting the help from lots of volunteers and is looking for more.  They want people to assist in pre-landfall beach cleanup, fund raising, and helping the trained & paid responders.  They're organizing the volunteer efforts mainly on a county-by-county basis.

They say they don't need people from out of state to come down and help -- yet, at least -- but you can help by donating funds if you'd like.

Donations to Florida
They're not taking donations directly, but they have links to lots of other non-profit and disaster agencies to which you can donate.

Jobs in Florida to help the oil spill clean-up
These look like fairly basic tasks and I don't know what the pay is like, but they are paying.  You'll have to be screened and trained first, but you can apply here.


Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
This office has general information about Oil Spill response opportunities in Alabama.

Volunteer in Alabama
To register as a volunteer in Alabama, call 888-421-1266
or go to the United Way's Oil Spill in Alabama volunteering site.

About jobs in oil spill clean-up in Alabama
This won't get you to a list of jobs, but it will give you information about where to find such a list, what they're looking for in terms of applications, and what you need to do to apply.

Donations to Alabama
Pretty basic page with links to donate by credit card, check, or with in-kind supplies.  They weren't looking for many supplies when I checked it, though, so if there's not much there, go back to the monetary donation options.


Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Response
They have a link on this page to volunteer, but when I clicked on it, it didn't work.  I think it was probably supposed to direct people to

Volunteer Mississippi
There's a special box where you can volunteer specifically for Gulf Coast oil spill clean-up.

Apply for jobs in the oil spill clean-up operations
You have to register to use the online system.  You can also call 888.844.3577.

Most of the donations being taken at the state level are organized by a particular branch of FEMA and another agency called Aidmatrix.
Aidmatrix - Mississippi


You can find tons more information and local groups with contact information listed at the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Volunteers facebook group


  1. This entire toxic scenario is frightening……
    Did You Know?
    BP engineers alerted federal regulators at the Minerals Management Service that they were having difficulty controlling the Macondo well (Deepwater Horizon) six weeks before the disaster, according to e- mails released by the Energy and Commerce Committee.

    “I don’t think this would have happened on Exxon’s watch,” Tom Bower, author of “The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century,” said in a June 11 Bloomberg Television interview. “They’d be much more careful and much more conscious of the need to supervise subcontractors.”

    WELL excuse me your sainted Exxon……. and Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

    Let’s just take a look at a few of your past misdemeanours, and then we can consider again – if the moratorium on deepwater drilling should be lifted, and place it all firmly back into your nice clean hands!

  2. Very informative post! Thanks for all of the great information. If I lived in the area I would definitely volunteer!


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