Sunday, June 6, 2010

Unemployed Hired to Clean Affected Beaches

Check out the Press Release posted June 5, 2010, on the Deepwater Horizon Response website:

MOBILE, Ala. – The Unified Command in Mobile announced today the first deployment of the Qualified Community Responder (QCR) program that will put unemployed individuals to work in the counties that may be affected by the oil spill. Working closely with the Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida unemployment offices, unemployed workers have been hired to help with the cleanup effort. A similar program exists in Louisiana.
To read more, click here.

Ornithology, Labor and Health Outcomes?

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (Forgotten Coast of the Gulf of Florida)

Grand Isle, LA (credit AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As I sit here scrolling through literally hundreds of pictures of the environmental disaster in the Gulf, I am reminded of what I learned as a Biology major a the University of Virginia.

For my spring break that semester, I ventured to Louisiana to study some of the same species of birds that resemble the pictures that I now see on CNN and MSNBC. Only now I don’t recognize the species of birds by sight. They are covered in oil. I don’t recognized their calls. They are covered in oil.

Today, I am wondering how my family’s vacation plans to the normally uncrowded beaches of Cape San Blas, FL and Port Saint Joe, FL will change. Perhaps there will be an influx of crowds to the Forgotten Coast of Florida. I anticipate people trying salvage the last available days of this shortened summer, sifting white sand between-the-toes while taking in the last of the clear odor-free Gulf breezes.

Maybe our reservations for vacation rentals will be canceled due to the beaches being closed. Volunteers, the government, and of course BP will try to preserve the beaches that in recent years they received grants from the Federal Government to nourish beaches after the hurricane-battered beaches had succumb to major erosion.

Maybe sacrificing my vacation for closed beaches won’t be such a bad thing. After-all, if the clean up efforts in Louisiana and Alabama foreshadow occurrences in Florida, then dozens if not a few hundred of chronically unemployed men and women will now received some sort of income. They will be hired for oil-clean up by BP.

This unexpected source of income while devastating to our environment and economy as a whole, is a welcomed opportunity for the working poor. However, as I reflect on what this means for our coastal communities, my optimism is further tempered. There are questions that have not yet been answered.

I must admit that I have not had a chance to try to find the answers to my questions. I hope that some of you reading this blog post might be inspired to seek out some of the answers through news reports or first hand accounts.

My questions:

What is the correlation between the demographics of the chronically unemployed in coastal communities in Louisiana & Alabama and the demographics of the oil spill cleanup workers hired by BP? (Hint: the majority of the oil cleanup workers that I see in the media are Black men.) A living wage?

What type of education about the teratogenic and carcinogenic side effects of the oil and chemical dispersant compounds have these recent hires received? (Hint: Both men and women that encounter with teratogens may have children with birth defects and chronic medical conditions. Carcinogens are cancer-causing agents and can result in cancer diagnosis in the individual themselves. There is a reason the dispersant currently being used in the gulf were banned in Europe.)

If these men and women have not been adequately informed about the risk to their health, what role should the Center for Disease Control (a Federal Agency) play? What role should our health advocacy groups play?

Who will be responsible for the short term and long term health care costs not only of the recently unemployed and underemployed fishermen, but for the oil spill cleanup workers? (Hint: Health Care Reform may be coming, but it is not here yet.)

What community resources will be available to support families responsible for caring for the children that will likely be born to men and women that come in direct contact teratogens and carcinogens related to the oil spill?

These are just a few of the questions and thoughts that have crossed my mind.

Perhaps I will keep my vacation plans on the Forgotten Coast. Instead of the beach chairs and the umbrella, maybe I can relax on my deck and reminisce with a few books from college: Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, Ornithology, Botany. After all, it is not likely that I will not have access to wildlife in person. Of course I will have my trusted laptop nearby so I can do a little research on those questions myself.

Until then, let me know what you find.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

(TN) Before you Look for that contractor...

Department of Contractors and Insurance

Board Licensing for Contractors

Tips for working with contractors (PDF)

NOTICE! A Tennessee contractor's license is required BEFORE bidding or offering a price! Reciprocal agreements do NOT allow using another state's license.

Verify Contractor (and Business) License

Contract Revocation and Formal Actions

Problem Contractor Lists

“Contractors that fail to respond to a notice that a complaint has been received by our office are placed on the Problem Contractor List for a period of two years from the date the complaint is closed.”

Take full advantage of all that FEMA has to offer.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

FEMA: What information do I need?

FEMA Evacuee Hotel List

FEMA Additional Assistance:
• Crisis Counseling
• Disaster Unemployment Assistance
• Legal Services
• Special Tax Considerations

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans (For Homeowners too!)

Home disaster loans to homeowners and renters to repair or replace disaster-related damages to home or personal property
There is no need to apply separately for both FEMA and a SBA loan. When you apply for one, you are actually applying for booth. (credit Brenda Wynn)

RENTERS CAN AND SHOULD FILE A CLAIM WITH FEMA. Their claims will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Document your damages and losses with photos!

Additional information provided by Congressman Jim Cooper's office.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Via Twitter, Dr. Sybril Bennett's thoughts on slow response of national media to cover devastating #nashvilleflood

1. Fewer lives lost which was a miracle.

2. People helped people. There wasn't a real conflict or fight about resources. The Governor and Mayor worked together.

3. The financial impact is local. Impressively Nashville sustains itself primarily through tourism. We are not Wall Street.

4. Nashville is not a big political player whether red or blue.

5. Nashville is perceived to be a lower income place. Stereotypes had an impact. It's sad and unfair.

6. The Gulf of Mexico and Times Square Bomb incident were already taking network resources. No excuse, just the facts.

7. There was no warning at all prior to this catastrophe. We weren't on anybody's radar screen in advance.

8. The Weather Ch. owned by NBC had the video, CNN too. Still, it was a weekend and the staff may not have been alert. Cuts!

9. Location, since its not NYC, Chicago or even ATL, national reporters aren't here, local ones were doing their local BEST.

10. No excuses, just thoughts. The City isn't "connected.” Network didn't have or listen to staff with relatives in area.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Need to Laugh

C'mon. You know you want to laugh!

Really. We need to CONSERVE H2O.

I feel like I am back in high school on a backpacking trip carrying around a my precious water bottle and purification tablets. Ok, it is not that bad here in Nashville, but if we don't do our part, it can be.

Please scale back your water usage. provides helpful hints to guide us in ways to cut back:

What One-Half Looks Like (

  • Don't wash your car. Don't.
  • Cut off your sprinkler system at home and at work (we're looking at you, Bicentennial Mall).
  • Smell your armpits. Do you stink? No? Don't shower. Your friends will still be your friends.
  • Don't wash your clothes unless you're out of underwear. Put on jeans and a T shirt and go to work. If your boss gives you crap, let him know there is a flood.
  • Let the dirty dishes stack up. No one will judge you.
  • Use and reuse the same drinking glass all day.
  • If you must shower, get in and out in four minutes. Set a timer. Be diligent.
  • Don't shave. Armpits, legs, face, back, or knuckles.
  • Your dog? He can also go without a bath for a few days.
  • It's time to use a bucket. Any time you turn the faucet on, catch the water and use it to wash what needs washing. Don't toss it out or just let it run down the drain.
  • Don't use a hose to clean off debris and dirt from your sidewalk. Let it dry and use a broom. If you're unfamiliar with what a broom is, click here.
  • You don't have to flush your toilet every time you use it. We'll let you be the judge on how often you flush. Just see what happens if you let it mellow for a bit.