Activist Julie Falgout
Woman who helped spill response goes to DC
A Terrebonne Parish woman who served as a go-between during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – aiding communications among fishermen, BP and government agencies – is back from a trip to Washington, where she shared her experiences.
Julie Falgout, wife of former shrimp boat captain Dean Falgout, was part of a team that offered help to spill responders through a program by Louisiana SeaGrant, an organization that promotes stewardship of coastal resources.
Last week, she participated in an hour-long seminar with high-level officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at NOAA’s central library in Washington.
Falgout said the SeaGrant program workers invented their methods on the fly, but their experience will provide plenty of groundwork for future planning.
“We learned how important it is for people at the top to listen to the people at the bottom,” Falgout said, after returning from her Washington trip. She said nobody knows local conditions and local waters like locals.
Better connections between fishermen and agencies, as well as the oil company, could have made help and explanations reach affected people more quickly, she said.
SeaGrant supervisors helped make the task of presenting a lot easier, said Falgout, who has never been very shy but also doesn’t make a lot of presentations to big groups.
She got earlier experience a decade ago, when her church got involved in the fight for tariffs on overseas shrimp, she said.
“Knowing there were friendly faces in the audience was a big help. Knowing that our purpose is the people helped me focus,” Falgout said. “The whole purpose we are here is to help people, and keeping that perspective helped, knowing that we can make things better for them.”
source: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com