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Ready for beach, shoreline challenges

By Staff | Jun 16, 2010

To the editor,

Naturally, we feel great empathy for the families and survivors impacted by the Deepwater Horizon and the innumerable casualties, both economic and ecologic, of this tragic oil spill. Inordinate suffering of humans, critters and the Gulf environment will be far harder to gauge than the elusive metric on millions of gallons of oil disgorging into the Gulf.

With no end in sight, we can anticipate too many decades of the revolting memory of this environmental disaster. We can expect to see tar balls wash up on our beaches in increasing numbers, as unforeseen victims come to the surface, ad nauseum.

Those who know me, know my mantra  “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” The dearth of planning, before, during and after this catastrophe is worse than scary. On behalf of Captiva, our tidal surrounds and beaches, the CEPD spent more than the last year trumpeting the dangers of off-shore drilling to governments and NGO’s throughout southwest Florida. 

My presentation to the Lee County legislative delegation received accolades from the audience, but engendered not one comment or question from those elected to represent us. Indeed, one has to ask, "were citizens peremptorily ignored while the Oil lobby tantalized legislators with untold promises of contributions and opportunities?"

That said, now is not the time to mourn or lambast those responsible or too incompetent to fix the mess. We won’t lack opportunities for blame game in the future, but shouldn’t our first focus be on solving imminent problems? Alas, unincorporated areas of Lee County, such as Captiva, Pine Island and others are often left to flounder in the face of some crises, whether precipitated by economic circumstances, acts of nature or the unabashed folly of  the “drill, baby drill” folks. ”  

Now is a time for action! CEPD have been developing a response plan for Captiva which will be coordinated with the County, State and Federal permitting authorities. We have on June 14th facilitated the training of  150 volunteers at South Seas Resort for basic OSHA certified cleaning and handling of tar balls, etc. Another 100 are waitlisted for the next class, being scheduled.

CEPD hopes to do what we can to make plans to prepare, but it is ultimately up to you. Of the 150 present, a dozen or two arrived from Captiva, many funded by themselves, South Seas, Jensens, Tween Waters, OurCaptiva and by complete strangers offering scholarships. Hundreds came from Sanibel, Pine Island, Cape Coral, Fort  Myers and throughout Lee County.

Where were you when the tipping point for the Gulf occurred? Have you thought about your responsibility to your children and grandchildren, to future generations, to Captiva, or Florida, to your environment or even to your own property and self interests? Was it Churchill who said, "This is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning?" Our beginning has been less than impressive, though the problem is prodigious. Let it be said that what you and I do from now on must be nothing less than the best.

Before the BP oil spill, I wrote about the heavy lifting being done by a few and the complete ambivalence of so many more. If you have been impressed by the government’s handling of this disaster and/or BP’s achievements thus far, then go back to your easy chair and let others continue to do the lifting.

If you care, you can help, call and ask, “What can I do?” Whether writing letters to the editor, the legislators or volunteering in other ways, the choice is yours. As always, checks in lieu of service will help too; we want to offer more scholarships, establish a Captiva "Spill Response Trailer" with relevant equipment and materials and provide further training and preparation. E-mail mycepd3@gmail.com or call me at 472-2472.

Mike Mullins

Chairman, Captiva Erosion Prevention District