Saturday, June 19, 2010

How an Alabama fire chief risked jail to save town from Gulf oil spill

Yet if the Gulf oil spill arrives here this week as scientists have forecast, it will not find the town unprepared. A flotilla of nine spud barges – flanked by containment boom – will be waiting, ready to block the 530-foot-wide entrance to Weeks Bay. If all goes according to plan, these rusted steel behemoths will form an impenetrable barrier, defending the estuary’s 19 federally-protected species and the vital marshland which serves as a nursery for shrimp and other seafood so crucial to the Gulf Coast region. They will also preserve an unspoiled way of life. The blockade is being led by Jamie Hinton, the local volunteer fire chief who, at one point, was faced with the possibility of being jailed for violating the federal and state chain of command. His resourcefulness is a parable not only of how desperate Gulf Coast communities have become to save the shorelines on which their lives have taken root, but also of the confusion that can consume and undermine such a massive relief effort. In the end, Magnolia Springs did not need BP or Mr. Obama or the governor in Montgomery...more

I've posted before on how a rafting guide saved a 13 year old girl and was arrested. Now we have a volunteer fire chief threatened with jail for violating the "chain of command." All this demonstrates the incompetency of government and their willingness to threaten or throw people in jail who question their authority, public safety be damned.

The key to the whole story is the following:

Others told him the government would handle it. He scoffed. He remembered the Exxon Valdez, hurricane Katrina, hurricane Ivan. If anyone was going to save Magnolia Springs, it wouldn’t be the feds, BP, or environmental activists. It would be the thousand-odd people who live here. After all, the locals knew the water – knew every twist and turn of Magnolia River, Fish River, and Weeks Bay. They would handle things the way they always did – together.

Jamie Hilton is a hero and I pray his efforts are successful.

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