First Lady visits oil spill responders in Jackson County - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

First Lady visits oil spill responders in Jackson County

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – America's First Lady sat down with more a dozen Coast Guard men and women at the Emergency Operations Center in Pascagoula Friday. She told them she's ready to listen to their personal stories.

"I want this to be a broader conversation," said Michelle Obama.  "I want to know about the spill, about the challenges, what I can take back to the president and to the administration."

Mrs. Obama thanked the Coast Guard members for their service and sacrifice. She pointed out that many have been working non-stop since the BP oil rig exploded in April.

"You've done a tremendous job in responding and keeping the outcomes of this crisis limited, and we're just proud and grateful," said Mrs. Obama.  "So I just want the country to know that you all are doing a phenomenal job."

The first lady also met privately with some of the Coast Guard members, including Lieutenant Commander Mike St. Jeanos.  The reserve officer from New York was called up two months ago to help with the oil spill response.  He said he hasn't had a day off since.

"She is just absolutely a wonderful woman," said St. Jeanos.  "It was a great thrill for me and one of the highlights of my career.  She's a beautiful, gracious, just a warm person, and it means a lot to the folks we had today.  It means a lot to me.  She took the time to meet with us and to thank us, and to understand the issues that we're going through: the families and the separation from the families."

Mrs. Obama told the group that she is committed to supporting them during this difficult assignment.

"It's important for me to know how things are going and what we can do to highlight and to shed light and to help provide some support to you and your families and to do a better job of it," she said.

And she stated the importance of helping the Gulf Coast recover from this unprecedented disaster.

"This isn't over yet, and the administration will stand with the people of the Gulf until folks are made whole again," said Mrs. Obama.

The first lady also met briefly with several Jackson County leaders to talk about the impact of the oil spill. They told her that giving Mississippi more control over the response has lead to better communication among the agencies and quicker clean-up time.

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