ANNA MARIA ISLAND-- Federal, State, and local county offiicials, as well as non-profits met with concerned local citizens in regards to the after math, potential impacts, and the challenge ahead, resulting from the gulf oil spill.
The meeting, sponsored by Keep OFF Manatee ("OFF" standing for Oil Free Forever), attracted over 100 citizens who heard from County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, Florida State Representative Bill Galvano, local Emergency Management Chief Laurie Feagans, Director of the Natural Resource Department Charlie Hunsicker, and Dr. Rich Pierce from Mote Marine Laboratories.
All speakers acknowledged the severe effects the oil could have on our shores, and as opening speaker Mike Shannon stated, "It would be a life changing event." At the moment, oil has not reached our local beaches and is still over 360 miles away from our shores, but as Emergency Management Chief Laurie Feagans stated, "We are very organized, whether a hurricane or oil spill, we are organized."
The local Emergency Operations Center is currently monitoring the situation along with a local unified command team. Both groups meet weekly and are taking calls from citizens in regards to anything oil spill related.
Karen Bell of Bell Fish House also spoke, addressing claims of tainted fish. Bell stated, "We are catching and sampling fish and have found that none are unsafe or harmed due to the oil."
As of now, county officials say the best thing concerned citizens can do is to contact congressional leaders, file any and all claims in relation to the oil spill, sign-up to volunteer, and report any oil sightings or oiled animals.
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