WOW….on Thursday, we found out what happens when you know the right people and can say “Tony said…..”.
Back to the beginning…..Tony is the owner of the property that the Breton Sound Oil Recovery Staging Area is located on. We were meeting with him at 10:30 to talk about areas on the property where my husband could transplant Irises.
When we got there, he was in a Hurricane Preparedness meeting (by the way, the signs said that the base was in “Stormcon 2”), and we were told to wait in the mess tent. We were told that they serve about 3000 meals each day and the local restaurants are each in charge of a one week stint. As soon as it was serving time, the workers started lining up to get their food. It was truly a mix of people, ranging from officers in the various military branches. to engineers, to sailors, to boat captains, to deck hands.
The meal that was being served consisted of soup, sub sandwich, salad (either small or HUGE), chips, fruit, Oreo cookies and a drink. Everywhere around the camp there were posted signs reminding people to drink lots of water and to stay hydrated!!!!!
We met with Tony while he ate lunch and he expressed his excitement about the work that Michael is planning to do there. He told us about a program that he is involved with to replant areas of St. Bernard parish to replace trees and vegetation that were stripped when the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over the area. He was even more excited when Michael offered to send Iris rhizomes that could be planted as well.
After lunch, he commandeered a 4-wheel drive Mule and took us on a tour of some the land that he owns. It was such fun watching him point out various areas of his property and to watch his excitement as he talked about the wildlife that is there. It was very different to get away from the hustle and bustle of the military style encampment!!!! He and Michael selected an area that could be used for a portion of the Iris transplants.
THEN, he told us of an island in the marsh lands around his property that was also a potential site for transplants in an “affected area”, so he told us to tell one of the public information officers that we needed a boat to visit the island, and …..boom….we had a 35 foot open skiff at our beck and call. The skipper took us around the marsh lands and finally was able to wind his way to the island. It was amazing to watch him deftly maneuver 35 feet of boat in a canal that was only 6-8 feet wide!!!! Unfortunately, we couldn’t get close enough to get onto the island, but it is a possible site as well.
This is a map showing exactly where the oil is located (the blue areas), with the green mark showing where we were.
We didn’t see any of the oil, but did see a number of the vessels that were carrying out the booms or bringing them back in. The boat skipper told us that his job was normally one of transporting the booms, but he had been called back in because of the approaching Tropical Storm. He also told us that the process of picking up the booms is very slow as they are heavy and slippery and very hard to get into the boat. Then, once they are returned to the staging area, his entire boat has to be decontaminated before he can go out again.
I loved the name of this boat……the Goo Gobbler
Our captain and his wife are both skippers and the boat that we were on (the Ave Maria) was built for Crabbing, but it was completed just a few days before the oil well blew, so it had never been used for it’s intended purpose!!! They are not having an easy time at the moment…..
Here is some of the inter-coastal waterways that are currently under threat. The oil is just a couple of miles away and who knows where this Tropical Storm will take it. It will be such a shame to lose these beautiful areas.
Today, we spent the day touring areas of Southern Louisiana and using the GPS to officially map the sites that Michael has been working in for the last 20 years. It was funny to think of how technology has changed the way we do things…..at one point we were using a normal map, a Garmin road GPS, a data collection GPS, a digital camera and the internet on my cell phone. But, I have to say that it sure made it easier to find the places that we needed and, even better, we can push a button and any of Michael’s students will have directions to those sites as well.
We finished up late this afternoon and will head back home tomorrow. The plan for the drive is for me to type up all of the field notes from the four days….it make take the full 6 hours!!!!
Until next time……