Digital Asset Information
Project: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Date of Interview: Feb 13, 2014
Narrator(s): Katie Gavenus
Interviewer(s): Alicia Zorzetto
Videographer: Alicia Zorzetto
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
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Hospitality, cooperation and resilience of people in oil spill impacted communities
Airplane crash rescue in Nanwalek, Alaska
Importance of community
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KATIE GAVENUS: I was a house sitter for an apartment and just that --
that people would let me in and, you know, share their lives with me in so many different ways from their experience with the oil spill to their --
their food and their homes was really a -- a, you know, something I'm very, very grateful for. And I really appreciate, but I also think speaks a lot to the communities. ALICIA ZORZETTO: Yeah.
KATIE GAVENUS: And to, you know, even in the face of some pretty horrible things the people were still just full of -- full of love and laughter and -- and this joy.
And part of that again it's -- it's a cultural thing. It's something that exists here and it's something that exists down in the Gulf [of Mexico] as well and just --
You know, in fact when I was over in Nanwalek there was actually -- there was a plane crash while I was there.
And a plane went - it went into the bay. And to see that community mobilize and everyone got out safely.
They got the plane out of the water, but I mean, you know, it was just -- you heard -- you heard the screams.
I was actually -- I was interviewing the village police officer at the time so I heard the call on the radio.
And, you know, by the time I got there -- I was up at kind of the village office and I was kind of --
the youngest person still there at the time they were having an elder lunch, and so they told me where the blankets were and told me to run down with the blankets, basically.
And by the time I got to the beach they were out of the water. They had gotten the people out of the water.
They had them in blankets and they had them on four-wheelers and cars headed -- headed up to the school and headed home.
And just the, you know, just the way they responded so quickly and everyone knew what to do.
And that’s -- I mean I would never hope for something like that to happen again or for an oil spill to happen again, but that's kind of -- that’s the gold star right there.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Right. KATIE GAVENUS: That’s what -- that's what you want is for that community to be able to mobilize and support
and get done what needs to get done to make sure that everyone's safe.
And there were -- you know, people went and got their skiffs to pull the plane and it was just -- it was amazing.
And, you know, the next day they didn’t have school, but the school was open so that people could come in to talk and just, you know, process the event.
And so that -- that was a pretty powerful experience for me and kind of when I recognized how amazing these -- these villages and communities are here in Alaska. And I saw echoes of that in the Gulf, too.
And I think that's something that’s really, really worth protecting and strengthening.
ALICIA ZORZETTO: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you, Katie. KATIE GAVENUS: You're welcome.