Volunteers train to clean debris off beaches - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Volunteers train to clean debris off beaches

By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Volunteers wanting to help clean up the beaches attended a training course at MGCCC's Jeff Davis campus in Gulfport. BP has a contract with the community college to offer the safety course that is required for volunteers.

People in South Mississippi say they were blessed with thousands of volunteers to help rebuild the coast after Katrina. Now they say it's their turn, not only to give back, but to save the place they live and love. We spoke with one volunteer who said the potential threat of oil reaching the Mississippi shoreline is a tragedy and everyone's help is essential.

"The other thing you can use are these goggles. These are like a splash goggles, they fit right over your eyes," David Useforge said.

Volunteers of all ages sat and absorbed knowledge that will help protect them from harmful chemicals while cleaning up the beaches. Ten-year-old Emilee Bergmann said she is most concerned about the animals she sees in nearby waters and learns about in school. She said that's encouraged her to help out.

"It's important to keep our beach clean and the animals could get hurt and I want to help with that," Bergmann said.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Safety Instructor David Useforge believes safety is the number one priority when dealing with potential hazardous materials on the beach.

"We really want people to protect their hands, their face, their eyes and their feet," Useforge said. "These splash shields are the ultimate thing to use if you're in a situation where you have some contaminants are blowing around in the air or might splash up from the water and get on your face."

Volunteer Polly Bergmann said this is a scary situation and she believes the safety training courses are necessary.

"Not knowing exactly what it's going to do or when it's going to hit, it makes you wonder how bad it can be and if we can hopefully prevent it," Bergmann said.

Useforge said a list of people attending the safety class is being compiled in a data base so BP officials will know who received the appropriate training. 

If you are interested in volunteering, this training course is being offered at MGCCC's Jefferson Davis and Jackson County Campuses through Saturday. Classes are being held at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. Pearl River Community College's Hancock County Center will also be holding sessions through Friday.

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