We continue to monitor the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pray fervently for all those who have been affected. Indeed, while the long-term effects of this tragedy will be felt by all of us, for those whose lives and livelihoods have been directly impacted, the needs for help are acute and overwhelming.
Earlier this week, Jessica Vermilyea, disaster coordinator with Lutheran Social Services of the South, took part in an ecumenical listening tour into the bayou marsh areas of Plaquemines Parish in southeastern Louisiana. As part of this group, Jessica heard from fishermen, business owners, and other local leaders about how the oil spill is affecting them, even as many of them continue to struggle with recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
We have received numerous inquiries from Lutherans around the country about volunteering in some capacity along the Gulf Coast. At this moment, only people who are being specifically trained and equipped by BP are being permitted to work directly in the clean-up process. This has much to do with the health and safety risks of handling the crude oil. In the future, opportunities may emerge for other types of volunteer roles, and each state in the area is receiving names of volunteers who are interested in helping. To register, follow one of the following links:
Several questions have been raised about whether a national funding appeal should be launched in response to this tragedy. Our commitment has always been that we will find the most efficient ways possible to use financial contributions to meet unmet needs that arise from disaster. At this time, BP has pledged that it is their responsibility to pay for all costs related to clean-up as well as to reimburse those who have experienced a loss of income as a result of the spill, and anyone seeking to file a claim can do so directly through the BP Web site. Given the unique nature of this situation, we will not be seeking funding for this response.
Instead, we lift up the unfolding needs of those in the many states affected by flooding and tornadoes so far this spring, including as recently as this past weekend in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. I ask you to consider giving a gift to support the responses getting underway in places like Yazoo City, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. Click here to give today.
In the mean time, we will continue to listen for emerging unmet needs along the Gulf Coast and for meaningful ways that we might engage there. As we do, I ask for your continued prayers for the beautiful land and people of the Gulf Coast as they struggle to overcome this continuing tragedy.
Rev. Kevin A. Massey