At the University of New Orleans, they callit CHART, the Center for Hazard Assessment, Response and Technology. Saturday, CHART members fly to Alaska to the communities impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, to learn about the battle from those who fought it.

'People who are doing the actual response to oil spills,' said Kristina Peterson of the UNO CHART Center. 'We are going to hatcheries, we are going to a cannery that was shut down. We're going to a community that their entire livelihood was cut off, and so how they reinvented themselves to be able to maintain their cultural integrity.'

In all, 16 people from Louisiana are making the one week trip to Alaska, from members of the Bucket Brigade to leaders of the Vietnamese commuinity to area political leaders. Every one of them looking at what can be learned there that can help the victims of the oil spill here.

'As we know from Katrina, we never knew enough, we never knew it early enough, we never knew it precisely enough,' said Dr. Shirley Laska of the UNO CHART Center, 'so this is an experience in which they will continue to add to the knowledge base that they have, in order to be able to recover quickly and efectively.'

The trip to Alaska grew out of a visit made here in May by leaders of the most impacted communities in Alaska, and the news they brought about the recovery that is still underway 21 years later was sobering.

'Times are very, very tough,' said Patience Andersen Faulkner of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council. 'First of all, we have not got our herring back twenty one years later.'

'It is frightening, but you don't want to focus on the frightening aspect of it,' said Laska. 'You want to say resilient people find a way to adapt.'

Over the next week, they will visit the communities hardest hit by the Exxon Valdez spill, to see the lingering impacts, and learn about what it takes to recover.

'What we're trying to do is shortcut the recovery,' said Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts. 'We want to apply lessons learned. We know that fishermen up there went through a considerable amount of grief trying to get their industries back up.'

And among the lessons they may exchange is about the courage it takes to fight back from a hurricane, or an oil disaster.

'Learning from them of how they did it, and hearing their stories or how they were able to make it happen, are the stories that I think are going to impact people here,' said Peterson.


Watch for Bill Capo's reports from Alaska with the Louisiana delegation, all next week on Eyewitness News.

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