As plumes of oil still spew into the Gulf of Mexico and tar balls are spotted on beaches as far east as Pensacola, Fla., some local residents are trying to figure out how they too can be a part of the recovery effort.
Many North Georgia residents call the Alabama, Mississippi and Florida beaches their home-away-from-home each summer and are eager to help the affected areas on the coast. And some local musicians are coming together to organize a summer concert, raising money for the workers who are on the front lines of the spill every day.
“I grew up on the coast and have always been an activist on conservation there — estuaries, marshlands and oceans,” said local musician Carter Corn. “If you are a bird or a dolphin or a turtle, you have no voice and somebody has to advocate for those who don’t have the ability.”
So Corn and Ken Hale, a longtime Gainesville musician, are organizing a few benefit concerts in Athens, Gainesville and Atlanta. They plan to add more musicians as the details come together.
“There are three things we need to establish this week ... one is date, time and gig, the second thing is where the money is going and third, who all is going to play,” said Corn, who is expecting to graduate next year with a science education degree from North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.
Most likely the funds raised through the concert will be donated to groups that can use the funds most efficiently.
“The way I see it, is when a flourishing ecosystems becomes a group of indigent creatures, the only true way to help them is to fund the people who are scrubbing the oil off of them,” he said. “When looking for a charity, we will probably look for veterinarians or a rescue organization that is directly involved.”
April Ingle, executive director of Georgia Riverkeeper, said her organization isn’t helping yet with any relief efforts but she is doing whatever it takes to support her colleagues on the Gulf.
“What we have been telling the folks that are asking that question is to go to Waterkeeper.org, and right on their home page they have their Save Our Gulf campaign,” said Ingle, who also suggested the Gulf Restoration Network if locals wanted to donate or get involved.
“Since we work with groups here in Georgia, this is sort of a national alliance of river groups. They have a variety of different ways that people can get involved and help,” she said. “If any of our volunteers want to know what they can do to help, we sort of direct them to the organizations that are on the front lines.”
Jim Fountain, a Lula resident and owner of CYA Agency Inc. — a corporate sponsor of the Georgia River Network — said the oil spill is sad and water needs trump everything else.
“Water is the only thing that, when it gets down to it, we all need,” Fountain said. “I want clean water — call me crazy. I’d be more worried about Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina because that’s where that stuff is going ... the states need to start getting ready over on the East Coast.”
But there have been some positive reports in the past few days from the progress of capping the well.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is overseeing the government’s efforts in dealing with the tragedy, said Monday that a cap on the damaged oil well is now keeping up to 462,000 gallons of oil a day from leaking into the Gulf. That’s up from about 441,000 gallons on Saturday and about 250,000 on Friday.