Filed Under:

Animal Rescuers Create Joy Amid Chaos After Exxon Valdez Spill

Play associated audio

It's been 25 years since the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spilling millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.

The impact on wildlife was devastating. Cleanup crews poured into the nearby port town, also called Valdez, where an animal rescue center was set up.

"The chaos is incredibly difficult to describe or even imagine," says LJ Evans, a local resident who volunteered to help. "Somebody came back with the first bird — the reporters were so frantic, somebody got in a fight trying to take a picture of this poor little oiled bird."

"We were working 14-, 16-, 18-hour days there for the first month and a half," Suzanne Bishop, another rescue worker, tells LJ on a visit to StoryCorps in Fairbanks, Alaska. "We ran countless times a day from one room to the other with dog kennels stacked up high all the way down the hallway of otters."

"I had nightmares for years, because they screamed," LJ says. "I'd never heard a sound like that."

"I remember going home every night and sobbing, because it was not only terribly sad, it was very hard work," Suzanne adds.

"Then one joyous day, in this whole long stressful experience, we took all these birds that had been washed, and lined up all these kennels on the beach — 30 of them, 40 of them — each one with half a dozen birds," LJ recalls. "We opened all those crates, and they swarmed out into the water and made such an incredible noise. They either paddled or they flew, but they got the hell out of there.

"There was so much stress, so much tension for so many months," she adds. "At least for that moment, that little while, you could feel good about something that we had done."

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jud Esty-Kendall.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Kristen Bell On 'Bad Moms': 'It Was The Funniest Script I Had Ever Read'

Bell's new film is about three suburban moms who find themselves ground down by the endless chores of motherhood. She says its creators (two men) wrote it as a love letter to their overworked wives.
NPR

Salvage Supperclub: A High-End Dinner In A Dumpster To Fight Food Waste

The ingredients — think wilted basil, bruised plums, garbanzo bean water — sound less than appetizing. Whipped together, they're a tasty meal that show how home cooks can use often-tossed foods.
NPR

A Look At Where Bernie Sanders' Movement Goes From Here

Bernie Sanders may have lost the Democratic race for President, but his supporters believe some of his ideas won. Sanders surrogate Jonathan Tasini looks at his legacy.
NPR

How Your Health Data Lead A Not-So-Secret Life Online

Apps can make managing health care a lot easier, but most don't have the privacy protections required of doctors and hospitals. And a simple Web search can clue in advertisers to health concerns.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.